There's something that worries me about the wording of your comment on discrimination. You state: 'If [the NHS] cannot treat its own employees fairly it has no hope of providing ethnic minority patients with the service they have a right to receive'.

I'm not sure if this is a Freudian slip, or simply inelegant wording, but surely the point is that a diverse and fairly treated NHS workforce benefits all patients, whatever their ethnicity.

All too often - as in your leader - it is implied that the skills of BME staff are best applied to patients who are from ethnic minority communities, but, in fact, their skills cover the same broad range as the workforce as a whole.

We should be very wary of pigeon-holing BME staff as the means by which ethnic minority patients can get a good service.

It is certainly not fair to BME staff, and at the same time it somehow suggests that the entire workforce cannot be trained to deliver culturally competent services. That is an assumption that we should challenge wherever possible.

Ros Levenson, independent researcher and health policy consultant, London

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