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Health and social care services in Scotland are institutionally racist and should incorporate consideration of race equality issues into all aspects of service planning and delivery, according to the Race Equality Advisory Forum.

Race equality should be a condition of funding for new services and access to information as well as care for all parts of society, according to a report published last week.

Ministers are now considering the report, which includes an action plan on health and social care. Among the recommendations is a call for a senior manager within the Scottish Executive health department to be given responsibility for equality issues.

The needs of specific groups are also flagged up, with the health department being told to consider early implementation of patientheld records, and to help gypsies and travellers; there is also a section on the health needs of asylum seekers.

The report describes 'barriers' which users face in accessing health services, including communication and accessibility, as well as timing and location, and insensitivity to the cultural and faith needs of individuals.

The forum says that, taken together, 'these experiences would fit the definition of institutional racism' as set out in the Macpherson inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence.

www. scotland. gov. uk/society/ equality