Healthcare inequalities may partly be due healthcare professionals'
ignorance of ethnic minority healthcare needs, according to an article in the latest edition of Clinical Medicine, published by the Royal College of Physicians. Cultural diversity programmes have been shown to improve patient outcomes, yet the research for this article found that the training of all major UK healthcare professionals in cultural diversity is inadequate.
Authors Paul Bentley, Ana Jovanovic and Pankaj Sharma revealed a wide variation in teaching practices between healthcare professions and geographic regions. Effective cultural competency training would help to make sure medical education meets the goal of improving healthcare for the whole population and tackle healthcare inequality. The authors call on UK regulatory healthcare bodies to consider cultural competency to be a requirement for all healthcare professional trainees.
The October issue of Clinical Medicine also includes an article by John Saunders, Chair of the Royal College of Physicians' Committee for Ethical Issues in Medicine reflecting on the important contribution the committee makes to national consideration of issues such as embryo research, living wills, organ donation, assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. He argues that ethical opinion needs to be grounded in a thorough understanding of the morally relevant facts, although the views of the "philosophically trained doctor or the reflective practitioner"
can usefully be complemented by the perspective of the outsider "free from the assumptions and tribalism of the medical community".
Also in this issue, Ann LN Chapman looks at the emerging global emergency caused by increasing resistance to antituberculosis drugs.
Historically, most TB in the UK has been fully sensitive to standard therapy, with low and stable resistance to single drugs. However, with growing numbers of cases in people born outside the UK, particularly from countries with high levels of TB, there is a real possibility that rates of drug resistance in the UK will increase. This will lead to huge additional costs to the NHS and major challenges in terms of infection control and the management of contacts with these cases.
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