GPs in Camden are providing “poor care” for ethnic minorities

Camden GPs were criticised in the Healthwatch report

Camden GPs were criticised in the Healthwatch report - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A damning report by Healthwatch Camden has revealed that GPs are not providing adequate care for black and minority ethnic (BME) communities.

The publication, titled “Access to GP services in Camden: the experience of BME communities”, documents the shocking outcome of 20 Bangladeshi, Chinese and African focus groups.

It revealed that BME communities “say their experience is the opposite of what is expected, have consistently poor access to GPs and find it difficult to get the right information, support and guidance from them.”

A prominent cause for concern are GP receptionist, who are described in the report as “rude”, “unfriendly”, “uncooperative” and “patronising.”

One Somali woman said: “The minute they know English is not your first language, they do not treat you properly.”

Another said she has to “mentally prepare” herself to speak to GP receptionists because they make her feel “uncomfortable and stressed”.

The report also detailed that many people did not feel they are taken seriously when talking to receptionists and GPs.

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A woman from a Bangladeshi group said: “I was given a wrong prescription and when I went back they would not believe me. They sometimes use other people’s files and they don’t check addresses or dates of birth to confirm you are the right person.”

The report highlights a lack of awareness of health services available - for example weight loss or mental health support.

Evidence suggests these communities are either not informed of certain services or there is a difficultly in understanding health advice due to language barriers.

A man from the African Health Forum said: “At GPs we feel overwhelmed by the tempo of the atmosphere and intimidated by protocols and procedures we don’t understand. Our confidence is undermined and our sickness is compounded.”

Following these revelations, Healthwatch shared recommendations with Camden Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), GP’s and NHS England.

These include specific training for staff interacting with people of different cultures and languages, counselling in community languages, extra support and awareness for mental illnesses and ensuring all staff are welcoming and respectful.

Gordon Houliston, head of primary care at Camden CCG, said, “It’s important that people of all ethnicities in Camden experience positive care at their General Practice. This report makes some very useful recommendations and we will work with NHS England to support our practices provide excellent services to Camden residents.”