physician at desk, via Istock

RCP report highlights inadequate training on health inequalities

It has been revealed that, following a recent study from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), the majority of clinicians feel that they haven’t been adequately upskilled on health inequalities and would like this should be prioritised throughout their medical education.

The study, which was led by Dr Ash Birtles, RCP clinical fellow in health inequalities, focused on understanding the current state of clinicians’ confidence in talking about and understanding health inequalities, whether they be avoidable, unfair or systematic differences in the health of differing groups of people.

Surveying over 1,000 clinicians, the study saw a staggering 67% of respondents reveal that they had not received teaching or training in health inequalities within a training programme or as part of their degree. Only 26% believed that they are adequately confident within their abilities to reduce the impact of health inequalities in their medical practice.

Following the survey, two self-selecting focus groups saw participants show a willingness to access the further education needed, allowing them to further grow their own abilities whilst improving the patient care and experience. These groups also express interest in further education and upskilling within the wider aspects of health and wellbeing, particularly regarding the impact of sustainability and climate change on health.

A further 55% of respondents also believe that e-learning resources would be beneficial to address what the RCP could do to enhance practice in addressing health inequalities. From this, the RCP has committed to develop bitesize audio-visual educational resources on various aspects of health inequalities alongside an e-learning package.

Dr Ash Birtles, RCP clinical fellow in health inequalities, and leader of the study, said:

“This survey has allowed us to capture a snapshot of current practice in the UK and to engage clinicians in a meaningful dialogue about the education they feel is needed to help reduce health inequalities in practice.

“I was shocked at the lack of training many had received in health inequalities, but we’re now equipped with the insight needed to create useful and practical training in a way that clinicians feel is most helpful to them. 

“I’d like to thank all those who participated in the study, and to Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited for providing the funding to carry out this important piece of work.”

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NHE May/June 2024

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