What makes my Muslim patients feel less integrated is inequality not lack of English

  • As a GP who has worked for 12 years in an area where approximately 50 percent of my patients do not speak English as their first language, I was eager to see what the government’s integration strategy would hold. The strategy is expected to be published in a green paper that will pledge £50m (nearly $70m) to boost integration in Britain
  • These patients come from a range of different racial and religious backgrounds, so I was surprised to hear Sajid Javid say that in the report the government claims that “most” people in the UK who do not speak English are Pakistani and Bangladeshi women.
  • In actual fact, figures from the government website Ethnicity facts and figures show it to be one in six. The misquoting of figures that are available on the government’s own website, launched to much fanfare last autumn, immediately frames the debate of integration around Muslim women, given the singular focus on the two ethnic groups which account for around two-thirds of the Muslim population.
  • As a doctor, I admit it can be frustrating when there is a language barrier during a consultation, even with an interpreter present, as often things are lost in translation, and I couldn’t agree more that it would be great if more of my patients were able to speak English.
  • English language proficiency is not the main issue in someone feeling less integrated and it needs to stop being framed as being about cultural differences. What makes my patients feel less integrated is inequality.

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