NHS boss asked by patient: ‘If I was white, would I be treated like this?’

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Amanda Pritchard is the chief executive of NHS England (Jacob King/PA) (PA Archive)
Amanda Pritchard is the chief executive of NHS England (Jacob King/PA) (PA Archive)

The head of the NHS has criticised the “appalling” treatment of some sickle cell patients after one asked her: “If I was white, would I be treated like this?”

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England, said that more needs to be done to tackle health inequalities across England as she raised concern about the treatment of some people with the condition.

Sickle cell disease, which is more common among people with African or Caribbean heritage, is a group of inherited health conditions that affect the red blood cells.

Ms Pritchard told the NHS ConfedExpo conference in Liverpool: “I heard really powerful stories from patients living with sickle cell disease about their experience of the wider health service, how they have been treated appallingly when they have needed to go to A&E, so much so that they told me they have to think twice and often delay coming forward for care when they need it.

“And this brings us back around to tackling health inequalities.

“One of the patients I spoke to asked: ‘If I was white, would I be treated like this?’ She didn’t trust that the NHS as a whole viewed her as an equal. That has to change.”

She added: “I’m determined that we need to make things better for this particular patient group and we’ll be saying more this weekend about some of the things we will do.

“But this also speaks to how we need to improve experiences for all patients and earn the trust needed to ensure that every individual feels able to seek help when they need it and feels they will be listened to if they tell us something isn’t right.”

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