Middlesex University is leading an EU research team examining discrimination in access to healthcare in five countries.
The team will be examining inequalities and multiple discrimination, where a person is discriminated against on more than one ground. Multiple discrimination is recognised but not legislated against in EU law. The findings of the research, commissioned by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and carried out in Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Sweden and the UK, will be used to inform EU policy and guidelines issued to member states to help deal with multiple discrimination.
Professor Eleonore Kofman, of the University's Social Policy Research Centre, who is heading up the research project for Middlesex, said: “Evidence has shown that several factors – like age, disability, ethnicity and gender– affect how healthy a person is and whether they have access to healthcare.”
Elderly people from minority ethnic backgrounds and children with disabilities are two examples of groups who may receive unequal treatment in access to healthcare.
Another example of multiple discrimination in healthcare is where women with intellectual disabilities experience difficulties with reproductive health services. Because of their disability, health professionals do not always talk to the women themselves, but with their carers.
Professor Kofman said: “We will be interviewing health professionals, advocacy groups and legal experts as well as health service users and will be investigating the barriers to healthcare for different minority groups and the policies that help remove them.”