The COVID-19 Pandemic has placed health inequalities in the spotlight, amassing wide scale attention
in national media following the disproportionate disease burden suffered by Black African, Black African
Caribbean and South Asian communities compared to White Europeans. The pandemic has also highlighted the under-representation of these communities in clinical research and the effect this has in perpetuating existing health inequality.
This additional media coverage has refocussed the debate on language relating to ethnicity, which terms
best represent the diversity within the UK’s ethnic minority population but does not exclude or place specific emphasis on particular groups. For a number of years, there has been growing concern over the use of collective terminology such as Black and Minority Ethnic (usually written as the acronym; BME) and Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME). These terms, although used widely in academia, policy and mass media are not particularly well understood by the general public, or in end user research. The terms also include some groups and not others, i.e. Black and Asian communities and there is confusion as to whether white minority communities such as Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and people of mixed or multiple ethnic background are included within this definition.
The Government released formal guidance in March 2021 which encourages the use of ‘ethnic minorities’ rather than previously used collective terms such as BME & BAME. The discontinuation of the terms BME/BAME has been recommended by a new Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’ report, with widespread national media coverage over the recommendation. We feel the generation of this recommendation was in part related to our work on the issue and our Editorial published in the British Medical Journal last year. As leaders in the field of inclusion, health inequalities and ethnic health research we require a name and identity which reflects contemporary views and guidance on the use of language relating to ethnicity in the UK. Now, given our expanding National role, seems like the right rime to update the name of our centre to better reflect the focus of our research and the communities with whom we work with.
As with all of our work, our approach to this name change has been community driven and informed by evidence. We have worked closely with patient and public representatives as well the internal team to identify a name we feel best represents our role within our community and reflects the highly regarded work we do locally and nationally, whilst acknowledging the most appropriate terminology.
Based on this work, our new name going forward will be The Centre for Ethnic Health Research, with the strapline of “National Centre for tackling health inequalities.”