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Why should commissioners invest in Gypsy and Traveller Health? A new report from Leeds GATE

Helen Jones's picture
By Helen Jones |  June 25, 2013 |

Nurse with moneyThis week we are launching an important new report "Gypsy and Traveller Health - Who Pays?" which you can find here.  The aim of the report is to provide guidance to healthcare commissioners when making commissioning decisions,  especially concerning preventative care  and community based healthcare support to minority groups, in this case, Gypsies and Travellers.  Whilst much has been said about the need to reduce health inequalities since the publication of the Marmot Review -'Healthy Lives, Fair Society', this report will aid commissioners to understand how insightful commissioning including innovative service models are needed to achieve measurable improvement in health outcomes.  

The report shows that Gypsy and Traveller families are significantly burdened by poor health outcomes. Whilst the system is currently bearing  costs relating to late diagnosis and ineffective treatment,  bold commissioning can secure significant savings.

The report is based on commonly experienced healthcare pathways for Gypsy and Traveller families,  involving dementia and bowel cancer but also drawing attention to carer responsibilities and depression.  The report concludes that significant savings are available via pro-active commissioning and new service models but that to achieve these savings requires a change of approach.

Gypsy and Traveller patients can be seen as 'non compliant' with medication regimes and reasons for this are little understood or explored. For example where there is low take up of immunisations or other preventative screening programmes, sometimes leading to late (and therefore costly) presentation of serious conditions.

Image of GypsiesAs this report shows  the experience of accessing primary care can be  troubling and unsatisfactory for Gypsy and Traveller people. Their needs and experiences are often misunderstood. There is little recognition of the specific barriers or difficulties that are placed in the way of good health outcomes, often unwittingly. Small changes in practice and 'whole family' approaches to health improvement have a vital role to play in improving Gypsy and Traveller people's health outcomes, and in securing savings on costly late or ineffective treatments.

The report is published by Leeds GATE, narratives were devised by Leeds GATE and Dr Margaret Greenfields (IDRICS).  The cost benefit analysis and drafting of the final report was done by Andy Bagley of Real-Improvement.  More information about how the analysis was done can be found on Real-Improvement website here.

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