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Health: Irish Community Groups

House of Lords written question – answered on 11th March 2009.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 24 February (WA 48), what form the discrimination has taken that has brought health inequalities to the Irish ethnic and traveller categories; how many travellers were enumerated in 2001; and whether that census information provided sufficient information on travellers not to repeat the questions in the next census.

Photo of Lord Darzi of Denham Lord Darzi of Denham Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

There is evidence from research commissioned by the department and the South West Public Health Observatory of the problems and perceived prejudice that Gypsies and Travellers, including Irish Travellers, face in accessing primary care and other health services in England. Poor continuity of care and follow-up are compounded by the reluctance of general practitioners to register them, and by a lack of medical records. Gypsies and Travellers have a higher incidence of long-term conditions, including mental health and respiratory problems, than the general population.

The 2001 census carried out by the Office for National Statistics did not enumerate Gypsies or Travellers as there was no such category on the ethnicity question. However, there is an intention to include a category for Gypsies and Travellers for the next census in 2011. Every six months, Communities and Local Government commission a count of Gypsies' and Travellers' caravans on sites throughout the country.

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