A recent report, co-authored by University College London, the University of Leeds, the Muslim Council of Britain, and Marie Curie, has revealed the difficulties faced by British Muslims in accessing healthcare during the pandemic. The report highlights the existence of a “postcode lottery” in healthcare access for Muslims across the UK and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the health of people from minority ethnic groups.
According to the report, there are pre-existing health inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. It found that many British Muslims experienced problems accessing palliative and end-of-life care, and that there needs to be a greater involvement of a diverse range of people in health and social care services to tackle inequity in access to care.
The report also showed that healthcare issues can arise when healthcare professionals have limited training in faith and cultural values, particularly those related to end-of-life needs. To address this, members of the British Muslim community were trained as peer researchers and carried out telephone interviews with British Muslims with palliative care needs and their families. Eleven interviews were undertaken by three peer researchers between August and September 2021.
The findings showed that families with palliative care needs experienced delays and challenges in accessing health and social care support and treatment. Families described feelings of increased responsibility, isolation, and anxiety, and patients felt unsure about how to access information or support.
The report suggests that healthcare providers must do more to raise awareness of what palliative and end-of-life care services are available to minoritised groups. Services must explore and understand the needs of diverse local communities, including British Muslims, to adapt services and make them more accessible.
In conclusion, the report calls for greater collaboration between healthcare providers, community, and faith groups to ensure that the cultural needs of British Muslims are considered in the development of healthcare guidance and its implementation. It also emphasizes the importance of providing support for those who do not have the support of family networks and ensuring that those who are isolated or vulnerable have access to the support they need.
Overall, the report sheds light on the urgent need to address healthcare inequalities and the impact of the pandemic on minority ethnic groups, including British Muslims.