Health & Wellbeing

Call for action: write to your MP urging them support GRT ethnic inclusion in the NHS

Despite Gypsies, Roma & Travellers having some of the very worst health outcomes, including lower than average life expectancy, NHS England still does not include GRT people in its ethnic monitoring system.

We are calling for this to change and you can help by writing to your MP urging them to support the change. To find your MP and get their email address, visit: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/.

We have drafted a suggested email below, but please feel free to edit as you see fit. Make sure you let us know on policy@travellermovement.org.uk once you have emailed your MP!

Subject: Improving data monitoring in the NHS

Dear [INSERT MP NAME],

Despite Gypsy, Roma & Traveller (GRT) communities being widely recognised as experiencing the poorest health outcomes of any group in the UK, GRT communities are not included in NHS England’s data dictionary. This is despite an explicit duty in the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to reduce health inequalities for minority ethnic groups.

The ethnicity values used in NHS England’s data dictionary are still based on the 2001 Census, rather than the 2011 Census which includes “Gypsy or Irish Traveller”. This means that even in areas where NHS organisations use the 2011 classification, the “Gypsy and Irish Traveller” data is lost because it has to be re-aggregated into the “Other” category for national comparisons.

The adoption of the classification system would have a transformative effect on GRT communities, not only by allowing national comparisons, but also by significantly improving NHS Trusts’ and local providers’ understanding of these groups, enabling them to address the stark health inequalities.

As my MP, I hope you are able to lend your support to The Traveller Movement’s campaign by calling on the Government to act with urgency to update NHS England’s data dictionary to the 2011 Census categories which includes “Gypsy or Irish Traveller”.

I look forward to hearing from you on whether you plan to support this change.

Yours sincerely,

[INSERT NAME]

 

 

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Martin Luther King Jr

The Travellers Movement believes in the premise that to have a happy and successful life you must be healthy both in body and mind. To achieve this TM have developed a number of Health and Wellbeing projects designed to address the huge inequality experienced by the Traveller communities in having their needs meet.

 

Primary Health Care for Travellers

As part of our commitment to reducing health inequalities for Travellers it is important to us as a community development organisation to ensure the communities are directly involved in changing the the situation. Prior to establishing our internal PHC strategy we organised a delegation of Traveller women to travel to Dublin and meet with representatives of a number of organisations who delivering services to Travellers. We also meet with a number of community members who had participated in training courses for xxx. Many of the women were very impressed and saw the benefits of direct involvement in changing the poor outcomes. This was an invaluable experience and assisted the women in helping TM to shape our programme of capacity building and community development training and engagement.

We successfully applied to the Department of Health and were awarded a grant from the Innovation Excellence and Strategic fund which enabled us to implement the following projects. Our Public Health Projects are as follows

 

Ethnic Monitoring

Despite the poor health outcomes experienced by the Traveller communities the Department of Health have made no commitment to include them as one of the 16 ethnic minority categories monitored by the NHS. This lack of inclusion is unacceptable to the Traveller Movement. Ethnic Monitoring is at the forefront of all our policy and campaigning work. In order to address inequality and poor health outcomes for the Traveller communities ethnic monitoring and inclusion is fundamental. TM is proactive in promoting equality of opportunity with key stakeholder groups. Our policy team has national representation on the Health Inclusion Data and Research and Good Practice working sub groups.

 

Maternity Care

In partnership with the Royal Free Hospital’s maternity team The Traveller Movement developed a community intervention project. The overarching aim of the project was to address the high levels of infant mortality experienced by the Traveller communities. To achieve this aim it was important to explore the experiences of community members in accessing maternity care while also acknowledging some of the difficulties experienced by health professionals in delivering services directly to the community. The result of this work was a highly successful and award winning project. The project produced a guide for NHS staff and an educational DVD which was awarded the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Maternity (APPGM) for ‘Best example of involvement of service users in the development and delivery of maternity services’. The project was funded by the Department of Health Pacesetters programmed and Section 62  The project has now ended but continues to support the community in a limited capacity through our support and advocacy work.

The project will continue to support our service users in limited capacity through volunteering schemes. The research evaluation report was published in April 2012.
Maternity Health Advocacy Project Evaluation Report

 

Health and Community Engagement Course

This Level 2 NOCN accredited course involved learning about all aspects of community health care, equipping participants with the skills and abilities to inform other members of Travelling communities . Working in partnership with their local health authorities to identify need and good practice for services dealing with Traveller communities.  Several candidates are currently enjoying being involved in diverse sessions from cooking a health meal from scratch, to meeting professionals and inspiring adaptations in services for Traveller communities

 

Health and Wellbeing course

Based on a similar model to the Primary Health Care course delivered to Traveller women in Blanchases Town Dublin (a leading Traveller community project) TM have established an accredited primary health care course for community members. This Level 2 NOCN accredited course involved learning about all aspects of community health care, equipping participants with the skills and abilities to inform other members of Travelling communities . Working in partnership with their local health authorities to identify need and good practice for services dealing with Traveller communities. Several candidates are currently enjoying being involved in diverse sessions from cooking a health meal from scratch, to meeting professionals and inspiring adaptations in services for Traveller communities.

 

Immunisation

Immunisation is a key focus for protecting Gypsies and Travellers against serious disease. The 2009 EHRC review Inequalities experienced by Gypsies and Travellers reported that “low levels of immunisation for children can be a particular problem where families are highly mobile, continuity of care is lacking, and specialist health visitors for the Gypsy and Traveller community  are not available” and “concerns over the possible ill effects of inoculations can also be an issue.

 

Mental Health Awareness

A key area of concern for Travellers within social care is mental health. Through our health and advocacy training course a key and reoccurring theme to emerge was mental health. To begin to address this aspect of health and the barriers to specialist support services a specific mental health project was established which was totally lead and owned by the Traveller communities. A tailored training package was devised; professional training was delivered to community members in Mental Health First Aid and Mental Health Awareness by a wide range of mental health agencies including Rethink. A specific outcome of the project was also to ensure inclusion of Traveller men. To achieve this aim a male focus group was established which was facilitated by Thomas McCann a psychotherapist and member of the Traveller community.  Separate to the training an educational DVD called Tell Someone was produced. The DVD is targeted towards both The Traveller community and Mental Health professionals as an information and training resource.

 

Offender Health

Based on previous project work with the Prison system and a high volume of contact from community members in relation to self, family or friends in prison TM were acutely aware that Travellers in prison experience poorer physical and mental health than their settled counterparts. This finding is validated by The Irish Chaplaincy in Britain (ICB) Research Voices Unheard: Whilst TM does not have the capacity or resources to offer a direct health project to Travellers in prison we deliver training and raise awareness with professionals responsible for delivering health services. We also correspond directly with prisoners and offer support advice and guidance through letter writing. We are currently working on a number of colloberative proposals to raise awareness and ensure better provision for Travellers in prison.

For all inquiries contact us