RCPCH responds to the UK Government's Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) responds to the UK Government's Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report.

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report published last week was a missed opportunity. We were disappointed that it downplayed the existence of structural racism and that it did not adequately capture the experience of people from ethnic minority backgrounds. 

There is a compelling body of evidence on racial disparities in children's health outcomes. The report failed to acknowledge that whilst these disparities are often linked to social factors such as poverty and poor housing, these factors are structurally driven. 

The availability of data on health outcomes by ethnicity is poor. We know that that there are racial disparities in rates of infant mortality, for example, but not for other indicators, as ethnicity data is not routinely collected alongside the health measurement. This must be addressed urgently - Government, departments and other agencies must work to improve the collection and monitoring of this data.

With the establishment of the UK Health Security Agency and the implications for the future work of Public Health England (PHE), the Government should waste no time in considering the recommended Office for Health Disparities along with the wider recognition of health inequalities needing to be tackled in a joined-up way across Government. 

Most urgently of all, the Government needs to engage with members of ethnic minority communities, listen to their concerns, and work with community leaders to build trust and a programme of reforms that will address race and ethnic disparities in health outcomes in the UK. 

 As the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, we have long advocated for child health equality.  Recent events such as COVID-19 and the wider global debate on race and discrimination has sharpened attention on health inequalities.  To ensure meaningful improvements in child health outcomes and enable the achievement of change to end child health inequalities, we have developed our thinking, examining drivers determining health outcomes, including ethnic background.