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Better communication could break down barriers and improve the health of Roma people

Translation services and other improved communication could help to improve longstanding health inequalities among Roma people, according to a new report.

16/04/24

Better communication could break down barriers and improve the health of Roma people

A new report finds that longstanding health inequalities in the Roma community could be improved with better communication.

Offering translation services, and helping people to understand how to access health and care services could break down barriers and improve the health of Roma people, according to the report by the Luton Roma Trust and the University of Bedfordshire.

Commissioned by NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (BLMK ICB) as part of the Denny Review into health inequalities, the study was undertaken over 12 months and included interviews and focus groups with Roma people.

The report highlighted that there are multiple barriers facing Roma people in accessing health and care services, including language and communications, knowledge of how the health system works, and limited digital literacy.

Crina Morteanu, Manager at the Luton Roma Trust, said the report shows the incapacity of the NHS system to provide for one of the most disadvantaged minority groups in the UK.

“This report is evidence of the difficulties that the Roma in Luton face in both the access to and the quality of the medical care provided under the NHS.

“We are grateful to BLMK ICB and the University of Bedfordshire for being our partners in this project and will continue working together towards a fairer society for all.”

The research revealed a lack of understanding of Roma people in health settings, perceived discrimination and a mistrust of authorities have combined to leave a gap in provision, leading many Roma people to return to their home countries to access health services, contributing to delays in treatment and in many cases, worse health outcomes than other minority groups.

Professor Nasreen Ali, Professor of Public Health Equality at the University of Bedfordshire said the findings provide an “action framework” for decision-makers to put into place “inclusive prevention and health promotion interventions that acknowledge and address the barriers affecting the Roma community when accessing healthcare.”

Felicity Cox, Chief Executive of BLMK ICB, said the report makes for difficult reading, but also provides a clear way forward.

“We have one of the largest populations of Roma people in Europe here in Luton and we really must ensure that we take steps to make health and care services accessible for everyone.”

“In our response to the Denny Review, we are looking at solutions including the development of a system wide translation service, which will make getting help so much easier for people who do not have English as a first language. I welcome the opportunity to work with the Luton Roma Trust so that we can build trust, and break down barriers, helping Roma people to live longer, healthier lives.”

Find out more about the Luton Roma Trust: https://lutonromatrust.org.uk/

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