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Royal College of Physicians report shows majority of clinicians want to receive more training on health inequalities

A recent study conducted by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has found that most clinicians feel they haven't received enough training on health inequalities and would like more as part of their medical education.

The study, led by Dr Ash Birtles, RCP clinical fellow in health inequalities, looked at clinicians’ confidence in talking about and understanding health inequalities - avoidable, unfair and systematic differences in health between different groups of people.

Of the almost 1,000 clinicians surveyed, 67% of respondents had not received teaching or training in health inequalities within a training programme or as part of their degree, and only 26% felt confident in their ability to reduce the impact of health inequalities in their medical practice.

In two self-selecting focus groups following the survey, all participants were keen to access further education on health inequalities, specifically in understanding how they could help to reduce them in practice. They felt that better understanding the needs and experiences of marginalised groups would help them in a healthcare setting. They were also interested in education on wider aspects of health and wellbeing, including the impact of sustainability and climate change on health.

When asked what the RCP could do to enhance practice in addressing health inequalities, more than half of respondents (55%) said that e-learning resources would be helpful. The RCP has therefore committed to develop bitesize audiovisual educational resources on various aspects of health inequalities alongside an e-learning package.

The RCP will also be using insights from the survey to develop further educational tools and resources to support clinicians with practical ideas on reducing healthcare inequalities in their workplace.

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."

Notes to editors

This report was sponsored by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited by the provision of funding. Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited have had no input into the report.