BMA survey shows, a year on, Black, Asian and other minority ethnicity doctors still don’t feel protected from Coronavirus in the workplace

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Published: Sunday 31 January 2021
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Thousands of doctors from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) have told a BMA survey that they continue to be only partly or not at all protected, from the risk of Covid-19 infection in their place of work.

  • Whilst 28% said they did feel fully protected, a staggering 72% said they felt only partly or not protected at all. In comparison, for non-BAME respondents that figure was 60%

In the survey, doctors were also asked about their confidence in having sufficient and properly tested and fitted PPE during this current wave. 

  • 16% of respondents said they were not at all confident and just under 25% said they were only partly confident. For white respondents the figures were just under 10% and just under 17% respectively.   

Equally worrying is the fact that when it came to being assessed by their employer for their level of risk from the virus, the results indicate much more needs to be done in this area.

Although a little over 46%  say they have been risk assessed and feel confident that appropriate adjustments have been made, 14% say they have not been assessed and feel that adjustments are needed, and a further 15% say whilst they have been assessed, the adjustments now need updating.

By comparison, the results for non-BAME respondents show that 55% have been risk assessed and only 7% of non-BAME respondents reported that their assessments now needed updating.

These are just some of the findings from a survey of almost 8,000 doctors1 and medical students from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, conducted in December.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of BMA Council said:“We should not have a situation in this country where health and social care workers – BAME or otherwise - are feeling unsafe or at risk from death or disease in their workplace – especially in the NHS where that work is to save the lives of others. It is untenable that a year into his pandemic we are seeing results like this.

“These results underpin a horrible truth; we have known from very early on in the pandemic that health and social care workers of BAME background are more likely to become ill and die from this virus. Covid has exacerbated existing racial and cultural inequities within our health service that have contributed to this disparity.

“The BMA has lobbied long and hard for greater protection and effective risk assessment for at-risk BAME workers and we now want the Westminster Government to bring in proper solutions to address the known ethnic disparities and inequalities. We need to see further and better research and investment, focussed on where it is most needed to bring an end to this dreadful state of affairs.”


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. 7,776 doctors and medical students took part in the survey between 14 and 17 December.
  2. See PDF for full responses.