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Study shows gender and ethnicity inequity in palliative care

Local Democracy Reporting Service

A study has concluded there is an “urgent need” for further research into its findings showing that Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients, and in particular women, have had to wait longer for palliative care than white patients, both before and during the pandemic.

The research was conducted by the Homerton Hospital's palliative care team, looking at the first 60 Covid-positive inpatients referred to its service between 1 March and 23 April of this year, alongside the 60 inpatients referred in a similar period last year.

The results showed that the time of referral to palliative care, which provides specialised support for people with life-limiting conditions, became longer for Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients during the pandemic, with a mean difference of 3.94 days to how long white patients had to wait.

Pre-Covid, the mean difference was 0.27 days. Claude Chidiac, the Homerton’s lead nurse for palliative care, said: “We found that Black, Asian, and minority ethnic patients tended to be referred later to palliative care compared to white ethnic patients, especially during COVID-19.

“This is an important finding for us to learn from and do more to understand why this is happening. Ethnic health inequalities are widely documented globally, but our findings suggest that Covid-19 may exacerbate those experiences.

“Therefore, we need to understand the ‘why’ and come up with effective solutions to set up equitable, responsive, flexible and integrated services.”