A higher risk of diabetes mellitus in South Asian and Black African populations combined with lower reported access and self-management-related health outcomes informed the aims of this study. Our aims were to synthesise and evaluate evidence relating to patient self-management and access to healthcare services for ethnic minority groups living with diabetes. A comprehensive search strategy was developed capturing a full range of study types from 1995–2010, including relevant hand-searched literature pre-dating 1995. Systematic database searches of MEDLINE, Cochrane, DARE, HTA and NHSEED, the British Nursing Index, CAB abstracts, EMBASE, Global Health, Health Management Information Consortium and PsychInfo were conducted, yielding 21 288 abstracts. Following search strategy refinement and the application of review eligibility criteria; 11 randomised controlled trials (RCTs), 18 qualitative studies and 18 quantitative studies were evaluated and principal results extracted. Results suggest that self-management practices are in need of targeted intervention in terms of patients’ knowledge and understanding of their illness, inadequacy of information and language and communication difficulties arising from cultural differences. Access to health-care is similarly hindered by a lack of cultural sensitivity in service provision and under use of clinic-based interpreters and community-based services. Recommendations for practice and subsequent intervention primarily rest at the service level but key barriers at patient and provider levels are also identified.