Survey launched to study ethnicity terminology in health and care

The NHS Health and Race Observatory, an independent body working to tackle ethnic inequalities in health and care, has launched a public survey focused on ethnicity terminology.

The body aims to understand wider views on terminology, hearing from patients, staff, carers and broader communities. The body states: “Language is powerful, and means different things to different people. This survey will help us understand what language is meaningful to people, and what language people are less happy with.”

The survey is open for four weeks, with the results to be used to support a roundtable discussion to explore and analyse the findings.  

Sam Rodger, Senior Strategy and Policy Lead, NHS Race and Health Observatory, said: “Language is powerful, and the terms we use when talking about ethnic identity in healthcare can have a real impact on communities. Using simplistic language can lead to grouping together diverse communities and limiting the impact of healthcare interventions. For the Observatory, it is important that we take the opportunity to consult with stakeholders on how language is used in the work that we do. 

 “While it may be difficult to find language and terminology that is welcomed by everybody, we want to be led by the communities we work with instead of imposing our views on others. This is an important step in informing how we speak about ethnic identity, but we also accept that language evolves, and this will not be the end of the conversation. We will always be open to having frank discussions with the communities we serve.” 

The observatory has already committed to avoiding using catch-all terminology like “BAME” or “BME” and plans to publish a full report on the findings of the survey in the Autumn. 

To take the survey, please click here.