Responding to the Women and Equalities Committee report ‘Unequal impact? Coronavirus and BAME people’, to which the BMA gave evidence, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA chair of council, said:
“Covid-19 has highlighted and exacerbated pre-existing health and social inequalities to devastating ends.
“As the pandemic has progressed, these inequalities have been laid bare by the tragically disproportionate impact the virus has had on many ethnic minority populations. As the BMA has repeatedly demanded, action must be taken now to address these inequalities and prevent further harm coming to people from these communities, and we are glad that this is supported in today’s paper, with the committee taking on board a number of points we raised in our evidence.
“Despite government reassurance that it is addressing these issues, we continue to see disproportionate rates of people from BAME backgrounds being treated for Covid-19 in intensive care, while areas with larger non-white populations continue to have higher infection rates. It is clear that the action taken to date is nowhere near enough.
“Today’s report supports the calls the BMA made in its evidence for greater and more detailed data collection, including exploring links between ethnicity, occupation and health outcomes, as well as calling for improved support for the self-employed and those on zero-hours contracts, who can face losing much-needed income if they self-isolate when sick or exposed to the virus.
“It’s also positive to see the acknowledgement that public health communications need a step change and to be much more culturally tailored to reach different communities in the most effective way possible for them – and this extends far beyond simply translating them to English. This is vital in the immediate term given the challenges that lie ahead in encouraging uptake of the vaccine across all communities.
“Much of this report should come as no surprise to the Government, and it’s imperative that ministers take up the recommendations, acting urgently to protect the lives and livelihoods of those hits hardest by the effects of this virus.”
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.
- For a copy of the report please contact the Women and Equalities Committee