§ Mr. Sumberg
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action she is taking to improve health services for people from black and ethnic minorities.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
We are determined that people from black and ethnic minorities should benefit fully from the national health service. We already have programmes to promote better recognition of specific needs and to overcome cultural and other barriers to using health services.
There are convincing demonstrations of good practice in places where voluntary organisations and the health service are delivering high-quality services to the local black and ethnic minority population.
We need to spread this good practice. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has appointed a task force to report to her on the action to be taken. Membership is drawn from community groups, the national health service and the Department to consider action at all levels to ensure the wide application of current best practice.
We are looking to the task force for advice on early action—on how to secure the measurable, practical progress which we regard as esential. This will complement the initiative to improve equal opportunities in the staffing of the national health service, which will itself help to improve the responsiveness and cultural sensitivity of services.