Background Racism is an underlying cause of ethnic inequity, driving socioeconomic deprivation, poor health and well-being from birth to death. Little is known about whether and how racism is experienced within specialist palliative care services.
Aim This survey aimed to explore the experience of racism of staff working in specialist palliative care services across the UK.
Methods An online survey was designed and disseminated by the Association for Palliative Medicine Race Equity Committee with external peer review and ethics committee review.
Results As of 12/10/22 (closing date:31/10/2022), 769 responses have been received from individuals working across a range of service types and roles, including housekeeping and executives. 66% of respondents selected they were White British (dominant ethnicity). 42% of all respondents had experienced or witnessed racism in their palliative care role¬ and 19% had personally experienced racism. Racism witnessed towards patients/visitors was mostly from other staff members. For over half of the respondents who had experienced/witnessed racism, these incidents had occurred within the last year. 44% did not report the racist incidents and the reason for over half of these was because they did not feel comfortable doing so or did not think it would be acted on. 58% of all respondents thought their organisation/team provided equitable access, quality of care and outcomes for people from minority ethnic backgrounds. 45% felt their organisation/team represented the diversity of the community it served, but only 35% felt senior leaders were representative. Qualitative findings expose the different forms and degrees of racism experienced and witnessed.
Conclusions This survey, the first of its type, found evidence of interpersonal, institutional and structural racial prejudice and discrimination in UK palliative care settings. Palliative care services must work to address racism in all its forms to address inequity for patients, families, communities and crucially the workforce.
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