NHS Future Forum: Part 2: Continuing to engage and listen: Public health

The NHS Future Forum has completed a new phase of consultation, gaining further feedback from patients, service users and professionals on four themes relating to the proposed reform of UK health services (information, integration, education and the role of the NHS in public health).

This page looks at the report on public health, and considers the implications its findings and recommendations may have on black and minority ethnic communities.

The full report is available from the Department of Health website.

Key issues for black and minority ethnic communities

  • NHS commissioners and providers of NHSfunded care should use partnerships with other local services to improve the health and wellbeing of communities that the NHS locally finds difficult to reach, providing training where appropriate
    Our research into the health and social care experiences of black and minority ethnic communities over the last 20 years has frequently shown that the voluntary and community sector may be well placed to serve and understand their needs.  Feedback at our series of health ‘informed conversations’ suggested that multi-agency commissioning, although initially more time-consuming, could make services representative, efficient and cost-effective in the long-term, whilst delegates at our recent In your own words event emphasised the need for quality assurance frameworks for the commissioning process to ensure providers fulfil and understand community needs.
  •  Around 10% of the NHS budget is spent on diabetes and the complications that arise from it, yet the risk of developing type two diabetes could be reduced by up to 80% by adopting a healthier lifestyle
    Diabetes is among a number of conditions that present a particular risk to black and minority ethnic communities (and in particular, South Asian groups).  We would therefore emphasise the need for culturally appropriate outreach to target lifestyle factors, such as menu planners/women’s only swimming groups.  The research collated on Better Health (external website) gives examples of innovative approaches to healthcare, including projects which distribute health information through mosques, hairdressers and community centres.
  • NHS must first “put its own house in order”- NHS should see that they in turn will act as advocates both for their patients and in their own communities. Given the diversity of the NHS workforce across a range of cultural and social backgrounds, this could make a big impact on health inequalities
    We welcome this recognition of both the diversity of the NHS workforce, and also of some of the difficulties which face it.  Our briefings, Experiences of bullying and racial harassment among minority ethnic staff in the NHS (external website) and The recruitment and retention of black and minority ethnic staff in the National Health Service (external website) have highlighted the limited representation of black and minority ethnic communities in NHS management, and also ongoing problems with racism or cultural misunderstanding.  As DH Strategic Partners, we have emphasised the focus on workforce rights and responsibilities alongside patient rights and responsibilities in the NHS Constitution.  We believe this can bring about a wider understanding of what the NHS means to those who use and work for it, whilst our regional conversations focused on the potential for the diverse workforce to reduce health inequalities.
  • Empowering Parents and Empowering Communities was a community‐based research programme, which aimed to improve childhood mental health in Southwark, London, by training 24 local parents to teach parenting skills to peers in vulnerable and minority communities
    We welcome this recognition of the interaction between mental health and stable family relationships, with evidence that parenting programmes can have positive outcomes in terms of health, community interaction/cohesion, education, discipline and contact with the criminal justice system.  Our Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities programmes has enjoyed particular success with parents from black and minority ethnic or vulnerable backgrounds due to its emphasis upon the roles of culture and community in successful parenting.  Many of our SFSC parents also go on to train as facilitators, highlighting the importance of peer learning in this sector.

  • ‘Sexual health screening services may not seem the obvious thing to do in a dental practice’
    The potential for ‘making every contact count’ has been acknowledged in an up-and-coming paper on oral health, which highlights the role that dentists can play in delivering sexual health advice, or encouraging patients to stop smoking/using chewing tobacco.  Use of tobacco is high amongst some black and minority ethnic groups, and our recent paper on tobacco usage and cessation suggests that awareness of the link between oral health/cancer/chewing tobacco may be low, particularly among the Bangladeshi community.