How does your ethnicity or the colour of your skin affect how you are treated within health and social care services in York? 

Over the summer, Healthwatch York launched a survey to understand more about people from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities’ experiences when using health and care services in the city. They have now published a report sharing the responses received. This will be presented to the Health and Wellbeing Board in York on 6 January 2021. The report can be found in the papers for the meeting on the City of York Council website.

Read the full report here.

Abbie Myers, Engagement Officer at Healthwatch York, said:

It has long been acknowledged within our health and care system that the voices of people from BAME communities haven’t been heard. We knew it would be really challenging to reach people during the Covid-19 pandemic – so many of our usual engagement routes simply weren’t an option. But we wanted to start this conversation, build better working relationships with key partners, and make sure everyone in York knows we’re here to represent them in shaping the future of health and care in our city. This is just the first step for us.” 

When asked about their experiences, the responses indicated an even split between positive and negative, with GP services receiving the most feedback, both good and bad. Maternity services and midwives were also singled out for praise. In line with concerns previously raised by Healthwatch York, problems accessing dental services were also flagged up, with respondents acknowledging this is a problem affecting our whole population. The majority of respondents did not feel their ethnicity or skin colour had affected how they were treated when accessing health and care services. However, nearly a quarter felt they were treated differently because of their ethnic background. There was also feedback about a lack of awareness regarding cultural differences on when to access healthcare services, and concern that some local health professionals may not be aware how certain conditions would present on non-White skin. 

Emily Abbott, Healthwatch York Deputy Manager, confirmed:

“The reality for us is that every voice counts. By sharing these results, we hope to encourage more people to share their experiences and join the conversation too.”

Siân Balsom, Healthwatch York Manager, added:

This is about us too, acknowledging in the wake of Black Lives Matter that we want to be part of the solution not just waiting for change to happen. We’re on a learning journey with the support of wonderful partners like York Racial Equality Network, York Travellers Trust, Speak Up Diversity and MYnority York. We may make mistakes along the way. But we’d rather try, even if it means we get it wrong. Because it is better to learn to do better than stay ignorant.” 

Healthwatch York want to hear about your experiences of health and social care. To share your experiences please get in touch – phone 01904 621133, email, visit and leave feedback on their website, tweet @healthwatchyork or find them on facebook.