Better care needed for local Gypsies, Romany and Travellers

Gypsies, Romany and Travellers make up the largest minority ethnic communities in Cambridgeshire yet are more likely to have poor health than other local people.
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"Our Health Matters" is a summary of what local Gypsies, Romany and Travellers have told us about their health needs.

What we did

This project was led by Dr Kate D’Arcy, one of our Outreach volunteers. Kate works at the University of Bedfordshire and has experience of work and research with Gypsy, Romany and Traveller communities.

Kate went out with Terri-Lee and Rose who work for the Traveller Health Team at Cambridgeshire County Council. They talked to 15 local Gypsies, Romany and Travellers about their health. Most of the people we talked to had complex medical needs and have experienced a range of different health issues. 

What people told us

Many of the issues described were very practical, relating to booking appointments or collecting medication. We also heard about information not being given in a way it could be understood, for example health staff using medical terminology.

Specialist support from the Traveller Health Team worked well, however it was often the only way people were able to arrange external support. People often didn't know about services that could help them.  

We also heard from Shaynie Larwood-Smith, Lead Nurse for Gypsy Traveller Health. She talked about some of the health inequalities of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. We heard that:

  • Life expectancy for Gypsies and Travellers is at least 10 to 12 years less than the general population.
  • 42% of English Gypsies are affected by one or more long term health conditions, as opposed to 18% of the general population.
  • One in five Gypsy Traveller mothers will experience the loss of a child, compared to one in a hundred of the general population.
  • Gypsy and Irish Travellers are among the highest providers of unpaid care. 
  • Gypsy and Travellers are over twice as likely to be depressed than the general population.

We asked local health and care decision makers to pledge to do something under each of the following headings:

  1. Key point of contact. Having a named person within their organisiation who can help make care work better for Gypsies and Travellers. 
  2. Recording ethnicity. Accurately record Gypsy and Travellers use of local health and care services. Gypsy and Travellers are not in the NHS data dictionary as an ethnic group, so their use of local health services is not accurately recorded. This makes it very hard to understand how care is working for them, or help improve it.
  3. Accessible information. Improve how their organisiation communicates with Gypsies and Travellers by providing information in a format that individuals can use.
  4. Culture change. Tackle any negative attitudes towards Gypsies and Travellers within their organisations.


Our Health Matters summary report
Gypsy and Traveller health needs report

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