What biases are in our healthcare systems?

Considering that healthcare has dominated the headlines, ruled our social media feeds and lingered in our conscience for the last 12 months, now is not a bad time to delve into some nursing related research and smash out a healthcare dissertation. My topic came to me in strands and required some effort to weave together into a succinct research question, but once formed it felt punchy and poignant: what are the barriers to blood donation in BAME communities?

The need for black blood donors, especially in the UK, is urgent. Black donors are ten times more likely to have the Ro and B positive blood types needed to treat the 15,000 people, predominantly of African or Caribbean descent, in the UK suffering from sickle cell disease – a debilitating condition that affects oxygen efficiency in the blood. However, regular donors from the BAME community are limited and efforts to encourage donation amongst this demographic have not yet yielded sufficient results. In order to facilitate BAME blood donation, more needs to be done to publicise the barriers which exist and harness the influence of the nurse’s role in health promotion to cut through these obstacles.

In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, I am interested in the role healthcare can play in cutting through unconscious bias and reaching out to communities whose trust in institutions may have wavered due to stigma or exclusion. For decades the politics of blood donation has been an area where BAME voices and experiences have been reduced to a quiet mumble. This needs to change and nurses have the means to increase the awareness of the demand for BAME blood and seek to mend the barriers which impede donation at a grassroots level. 

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Jess Marshall

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June 2022
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