Responding to a paper1 from IPPR and Runnymede, which calls for protection for ethnic minorities from a second Covid wave, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “The BMA has long been calling for BAME communities and healthcare staff to be properly protected against Covid-19 since April when the alarming impact on BAME individuals became known. While the Government responded to our concerns by commissioning a review from PHE, since its publication in June, we have heard nothing further from ministers regarding implementing its recommendations.
“We are deeply concerned that four months since publication, 35% IT beds are occupied by BAME patients, and that two times as many ethnic minority people are infected by virus, with ONS figures also continuing to show disproportionate deaths.
“As set out in the PHE recommendations, we also urgently need more culturally tailored public health messaging that BAME communities trust and have confidence in order to ensure behavioural change. We also need clear Government guidance for employers on how to do culturally sensitive risk assessments. All workers at increased risk from the virus must be protected. The Government knows that BAME people are more likely to be in key worker roles, increasing their risk of exposure, and they need to act. Our UK population is diverse and the Covid response must recognise this.
“We also need to see more data collected, including infection data to be broken down by ethnicity and more data linking occupation and ethnicity. This must be paired with the longer-term interventions, also recommended by PHE, to tackle the UK’s long-standing socio-economic inequalities that have been so tragically highlighted by the pandemic.
“The BMA has pressed hard for a robust NHS system of risk assessment to ensure those who are most vulnerable, including BAME doctors, can work safely. While we are relieved to know that most BAME NHS workers have now been risk assessed, we need to be assured that risk assessments and supports put in place are sufficiently effective. This is all the more important given we are in the throws of a second wave and need to protect healthcare staff at highest risk from the virus.
“We are also asking the Government to increase efforts to ensure PPE is made available which meets the needs of BAME healthcare workers. We continue to grieve the doctors needlessly lost in the first wave of the pandemic, most of whom were BAME, and this cannot happen again.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
1. For the full report, click here.