An independent body set up by the NHS to tackle health inequalities has formally pledged never to use general acronyms such as ‘BAME’ after receiving comments that they are not representative.
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 groups.
The Observatory said it has become the norm in public policy to use acronyms to denote an “extremely diverse” group of people, but this scrutiny has been spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement.
He said terminology that âgrossly confusesâ different groups âdoesn’t just erase identities; it can also lead to general political decisions which do not take into account the nuance of ethnic inequalities in the UK â.
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.
He found no single generic term to describe ethnic groups that was accepted by the majority of respondents.
The organization had previously said it is committed to avoiding the use of acronyms and acronyms, but has now formalized this as one of the five key principles it adopts in its communications.
As far as possible it will be specific about the ethnic groups it refers to, but where collective terminology is needed it will “always be context-driven and not adopt a general term”.
He said he would remain adaptable and open to changing his approach to the language.
Dr Habib Naqvi, Director of the Observatory, said: âThe communities we engage with and work with had to be at the center of these broad conversations before the Observatory made a final decision on its own approach to development. the use of terminology.
âWe hope that the proposed principles will help others to think about their own approaches to using the language.
“This is not the end of the conversation as we remain open to revisiting preferences over time.”
The survey found that ‘ethnic minority’ was the least unpopular collective term, with equal proportions feeling dissatisfied and satisfied (37.9%).
Some 30% of those surveyed were satisfied with the term âBAMEâ.
White Britons made up the largest group of respondents (38.2% of the total), but their responses were not taken into account when asked about feeling comfortable with collective terms for non-white British groups.
Next come Indians of Asian origin (11.2%) and black Africans (8.8%).
The Observatory also organized five discussion groups with around 100 participants in September and October.
Annette Hay, chair of the Coventry University Council for Racial Equality, said the discussion had been “very timely and much needed”.
She said: âI found the discussion to be very dynamic and engaging because, like many others, this is something that I have personally struggled against for a long time now.
“There were very compelling arguments for and against the use of various expressions, acronyms and terminologies, most of which seemed to reinforce the need for more conversations and consultations, so that we could find new, more nuanced ways to reference, to describe and analyze, generally marginalized and minority groups.