• Monday, February 06, 2023


NHS-backed research urges to scrap the term “BAME”

Photo: iStock

By: Pramod Thomas

A NEW research backed by the NHS has urged to scrap the term “BAME” as it “erases identities”, The Telegraph reported.

The NHS Race and Health Observatory launched a four-week consultation with the public in July on how best to collectively refer to people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups.

The independent body, set up and supported by the NHS to tackle health inequalities, has formally committed to never use the blanket acronym after feedback to its consultation said it was not representative, the report added.

Generic collective terms such as “BAME”, “BME” and “ethnic minority” are “not representative or universally popular”, the Observatory said, after receiving responses from 5,104 people.

It said terminology that “crudely conflates” different groups “does not just erase identities, it can also lead to broad brush policy decisions that fail to appreciate the nuance of ethnic inequality in the UK”.

It found no single, collective umbrella term to describe ethnic groups was agreed by the majority of respondents.

It is understood NHS England has also moved away from using the term “BAME”.

The report gave no recommendations for other organisations to drop the acronym, but said it recommended groups should “have their own conversations about language”.

According to the survey, “ethnic minority” was the least unpopular collective term, with equal proportions feeling unhappy and happy with it (37.9 per cent).

Some 30 per cent of respondents were happy with the term “BAME”.

“The communities we engage and work with needed to be at the centre of these broad conversations before the Observatory took a final decision on its own approach towards terminology use,” Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the Observatory, was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

“We hope that the proposed principles will help others to reflect on their own approaches to language use. This is not the end of the conversation as we remain open to revisit preferences over time.”

White British people made up the largest group of respondents – 38.2 per cent of the total – but their responses were not counted when questions were asked about feeling comfortable about collective terms for non-White British groups.

The Observatory also held five focus groups with around 100 participants over September and October.

Annette Hay, chairman of Coventry University Race Equality Council, told The Telegraph: “There were some very compelling arguments for and against the use of various phrases, acronyms and terminology, most of which seemed to reinforce the need for more conversations and consultations, so that we might find new and more nuanced ways of referencing, describing and analysing, typically marginalised and minoritised groups.”

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