'The NHS is one of the things that holds us together: it was set up to help people regardless of class or race.'
I am delighted to be able to present this important document on meeting the health needs of Scotland's ethnic minority communities more effectively.
In planning action and delivering change within the NHS, we have made clear our determination to work to ensure NHSScotland is more responsive to the needs of individuals and communities.
Action is already underway to improve the delivery of healthcare for key groups, for older people, for children, for people with mental health problems or with learning disabilities. This document is another step forward. It addresses problems of access to and use of the NHS which are often faced by people from ethnic minority backgrounds. The need for culturally sensitive ways of communicating, for the provision of religiously appropriate food, and the translation of patient information are important issues which impact directly on people's experience.
There is no place for racism in the NHS - in dealing with patients, as an employer, or in communicating with the public. The great strength of the NHS is that care is free. It must now also be fair, and be seen to be fair, for all the staff and patients that believe in it and depend on it.
This document is a first step towards identifying the current practice in the NHS - the strengths and the weaknesses - and setting out how this can be improved.
Minister for Health and Community Care