COVID-19: BMA priorities

Our four main priorities for COVID across the UK are the vaccination programme, the impact on doctors from ethnic minorities, tackling the backlog in non-COVID care and a careful approach to easing lockdown restrictions.

Location: UK
Audience: All doctors
Last reviewed: 18 May 2022
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Our number one priority at this moment of national emergency is to ensure that doctors are able to go about their vital work and treat patients in the knowledge that they are as safe and supported as possible.

Our four main priorities across the UK are the vaccination programme, the impact of COVID on ethnic minorities, tackling the backlog of NHS work and easing lockdown restrictions.



The BMA has consistently supported the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

BMA action

  • Supported our brilliant primary care workforce who delivered vaccines to patients through extensive support and guidance.
  • Offered specific advice to our members on tackling vaccine hesitancy amongst patients. The BMA also launched a social media campaign in May 2021 to promote vaccines to ethnic minorities.
  • Lobbied for all healthcare workers to be prioritised as part of the initial rollout of the vaccinations.


COVID and ethnic minorities

The shocking statistics indicating the greater impact of the virus on ethnic minority healthcare workers and the wider community is an issue that the BMA has led on since March 2020.

It is vital that there is greater understanding of the issues and the underlying factors as well as the proper support in place for ethnic minority healthcare and other public sectors workers that are rightfully concerned about working in the frontline.

BMA action

  • The first major body to call for - and secure - a national inquiry into the disproportionate of COVID-19 on healthcare workers and communities from minority ethnic backgrounds.
  • Lobbied for and secured a risk assessment framework to ensure that vulnerable and ethnic minority doctors who are at highest risk of death from COVID-19 are better protected.
  • In June 2021 we launched a research project looking to examine the barriers to progression for doctors caused by factors relating to race and ethnicity. Eminent researchers working on the project will include Doyin Atewologun, an internationally recognised expert on leadership, diversity, intersectionality and organisation culture, Roger Kline, a research fellow, who has written numerous reports on racism at work and Vijaya Nath.
  • We have become a leading voice on ethnic minority issues with our chair of council discussing this topic on all main news outlets – across the main broadcast outlets as well as national and regional media.
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Tackling the backlog and protecting staff wellbeing

The NHS has been running 'hot' for a long time. An overstretched and exhausted workforce must be given time to rest before they are required to tackle the backlog of non-COVID care that has developed throughout the pandemic.

If staff are being pushed too hard to restore routine care in an unrealistic timeframe and without suitable resources, we will see a workforce squeeze due to increasingly high staff absence rates and staff reducing their hours or leaving altogether.

This would make it harder for health services to get back on track and provide timely and safe care to patients who need it.

BMA action

We have called for a realistic approach to tackling the backlog of non-COVID care through the publication of our Rest, recover, restore: getting UK health services back on track report. We have called for:

  • all governments and system leaders across the UK to have an honest conversation with the public about the need for a realistic approach
  • health, safety, and mental wellbeing of the workforce to remain a top priority
  • additional resourcing to help tackle the backlog
  • measures to expand system capacity
  • measures to retain doctors and expand the medical workforce.


Easing lockdown restrictions

Rates of COVID-19 infections across the UK are increasing rapidly and the Government must consider the impact of easing restrictions carefully.

We believe that more time is needed to evaluate the full impact, including the extent to which new cases lead to severe illness and demand for hospital care.

BMA action

  • We called for a delay in the easing of lockdown restrictions scheduled for 21 June. In calling for the delay, we published the latest data and rationale underpinning our decision. The prime minister, heeded our call and the calls from others, and announced a delay in the lifting of restrictions of at least four weeks. 
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