Objectives: The aim of the study was to find what data on ethnicity are collected in North Thames Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments. Also to investigate how the data are used, what staff recruitment and training policies were in place, and to discover whether written material in different languages and interpreters were available.
Methods: This was a qualitative study using semi-structured questionnaires. A range of staff working in A&E departments in North Thames (that had a primary care initiative in place) were interviewed.
Results: Ethnic origin was recorded in all units but not on every patient. Only one unit had actively recruited staff from an ethnic minority. None of the units had formal training in place for staff to gain an appreciation of issues facing patients from ethnic minorities. Interpreters and written material in appropriate languages were available in all units.
Conclusions: Whilst the needs of patients from ethnic minorities were recognised in all of the units there appeared to be scope for further research and development. There is a need for providers to undertake comprehensive studies on the utilisation and health needs of ethnic minorities attending both primary care and A&E services. Only with this information can more appropriate services be provided.