Nurses' experiences of caring for South Asian minority ethnic patients in a general hospital in England

Vasso Vydelingum
Nursing Inquiry 2006, 13 (1): 23-32
Healthcare provision for minority ethnic groups in the UK has generally revealed inequalities in access and differential service provision. British healthcare policy has started to address such issues. However, very few studies have specifically examined the experiences of nurses caring for minority ethnic patients. This paper focuses on the focus group interviews of a broader ethnographic study, aimed at describing nurses' experiences of caring for South Asian minority ethnic patients, in a general hospital in the south of England. A sample of 43 nurses of all grades from six medical wards took part in the focus groups: three ward sisters, 22 staff nurses and 18 care assistants; 40 participants were white, one was African-Caribbean and two were South Asian. Data analysis revealed eight themes: changes in service provision; false consciousness of equity; limited cultural knowledge; victim blaming; valuing of the relatives; denial of racism; ethnocentrism, and self-disclosure. The study revealed a good local service response to government policies in addressing inequality. However, there was a tendency to treat all minority ethnic patients the same, with evidence of ethnocentric practices, victim-blaming approaches and poor cultural competence in nursing staff, which raise questions about the quality of service provision. The study indicates that ongoing training and development in the area of cultural competence is necessary.

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