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The King’s Fund response to The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report

Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, commented on the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities 

‘This report rightly focuses on the inequalities in health experienced by Black and ethnic minority communities. Unpicking the causes of these inequalities is difficult and it is important not to generalise about this. Available evidence suggests a complex interplay of deprivation and environmental, physiological, behavioural and cultural factors. 

‘Ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by socio-economic deprivation, which is a key determinant of health. This is driven by a wider social context in which structural racism can reinforce inequalities among ethnic groups, for example, in housing, employment and the criminal justice system, which in turn can have a negative impact on their health. Evidence also shows that racism and discrimination can have a negative impact on the physical and mental health of people from ethnic minority groups.

‘While it is important to not generalise about the cause of health inequalities among Black and ethnic minority people, the importance of structural racism must not be downplayed.’ 

Commenting on the Commission’s health recommendations, Richard said:

‘The Commission rightly recognises the wide range of factors that create health inequalities, and therefore the need for a whole-of-government approach to tackling them. This will require the political will to produce a cross-government strategy for tackling health inequalities that – critically – contains clear departmental-specific goals, accountability, and independent monitoring. 

‘The NHS has a key part to play in helping to prevent ill health among ethnic minority groups, but health services also need to take action as employers. Yes, the NHS has one of the most ethnically diverse workforces in the public sector, but year after year, ethnic minority staff report worse experiences in terms of their lives and careers, when compared with white staff. Despite the overall diversity of the workforce, people from an ethnic minority background are under-represented in senior positions.’

Notes to editors

Lord Kakkar, Chair of The King’s Fund’s Board of Trustees, sat on the Commission in a personal capacity. He stood down from the Commission at the end of his agreed term in December 2020.

For more information about our response to the report, please contact The King's Fund media team on 07584 146035 or

The King’s Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible care is available to all.

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