December 9, 2021

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Concerns grow over ‘disproportionate impact’ of coronavirus on BAME community

Concerns grow over ‘disproportionate impact’ of coronavirus on BAME community
People from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are two to three times more likely to die from coronavirus, new analysis today suggests. Researchers found the risk of death from Covid-19 for black African groups was more than three times higher than the general population.In people of Pakistani background it was also more than times higher,…

People from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are two to three times more likely to die from coronavirus, new analysis today suggests. 

Researchers found the risk of death from Covid-19 for black African groups was more than three times higher than the general population.

In people of Pakistani background it was also more than times higher, 2.41 times higher for Bangladeshi, black Caribbean was 2.21 times higher, and Indian was 1.7 times higher.

There was 12 per cent lower risk of death from Covid-19 from white populations in England than the general population, the analysis of NHS data by University College London (UCL) also found.   

Co-author of the report, Dr Delan Devakumar, of the UCL Institute for Global Health, said: ‘Rather than being an equaliser, this work shows that mortality with Covid-19 is disproportionately higher in black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.

‘It is essential to tackle the underlying social and economic risk factors and barriers to healthcare that lead to these unjust deaths.’

It comes as it was yesterday revealed how only one white doctor has died from Covid-19 while 22 Black, Asian and ethnic minority doctors have lost their lives.

Dr Craig Wakeham (pictured), a GP from Dorset, is believed to the only doctor who has died and is not from the Black, Asian and ethnic minority community

Mounting data from NHS intensive care units shows BAME populations face a greater risk of suffering complications than white Britons, prompting the government to launch an inquiry last month.  

A recent report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) think-tank, earlier this month said that Black and Asian Britons are two-and-a-half times more likely to die from coronavirus than white people.

The report compared the number of hospital deaths in the NHS during the COVID-19 crisis against ethnicity. 

Today, Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch told MPs that the government are ‘very concerned’ by reports of a ‘disproportionate’ impact of the disease on BAME communities.  

She told MPs that a Public Health England (PHE) review analysing the impact of different factors including ethnicity, gender and age on coronavirus outcomes was expected to be published at the end of May.

Her comments came as a string of MPs from across different parties raised the issue during Commons women and equalities questions.

It comes just days after The Royal College of Surgeons said NHS workers from black or ethnic minority groups should be removed from the frontline as more evidence points to them being more vulnerable to the virus. 

BMA repeats calls for ‘urgent investigation’ into deaths of doctors from BAME community

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:  ‘These are stark and disturbing statistics, with such an overwhelming proportion of doctors having died being from BAME backgrounds.

‘This is why the BMA called for an urgent investigation, since the Government has a duty of care to the significant number of doctors from BAME backgrounds who are serving the nation as we fight this virus.

‘It is vital that this review records data on healthcare workers who are admitted to hospital, their occupational status, whether they worked in infectious areas, and also whether they had access to appropriate personal protective equipment.

‘While this investigation takes place, it is crucial that we put in place all measures right now to protect those BAME doctors who are at high risk of serious illness or death. 

‘This must include occupational risk assessments, including whether they have other medical conditions, and redeploying those doctors at highest risk away from Covid-19 areas. 

‘Such doctors can still provide an essential role in the NHS in less infectious or non-patient facing areas, including remote working with telephone and video consultations.’

Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, voiced concerns today about the disproportionate number of BAME deaths from Covid-19.

She said of the 17 doctors who had died from Covid 19, 16 were from BAME backgrounds.

MailOnline looked at the latest figures today and found they are actually higher and that 22 doctors from the BAME community are thought to have died.

A spokesman for the British Medical Association confirmed that at least at least 22 doctors who died have been from that group.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, repeated calls today for an urgent investigation into why such a large proportion of doctors have died from BAME backgrounds. 

He added: ”This is why the BMA called for an urgent investigation, since the Government has a duty of care to the significant number of doctors from BAME backgrounds who are serving the nation as we fight this virus.’

Dr Craig Wakeham, a GP from Dorset, is believed to the only doctor who has died and is not from the Black, Asian and ethnic minority group 

He died in mid-April and his colleagues paid tribute to the devoted husband and father-of-two.

They said: ‘His industry and innovation led our practice for 30 years.

‘He was also a leading light in both the Clinical Commissioning Group and Local Medical Committee, as well as a devoted husband a father to his two boys.

 ‘His legacy lives on in our patients who he cared for diligently, and in the good name he built for our surgery.’

A total of 140 frontline NHS staff have died during the coronavirus pandemic. The doctors who have passed away are: Dr Habibhai Babu, Saad Al-Dubbaisi (GP), Dr Furqan Ali Siddiqui, Dr Nasir Khan, Dr Paul Kabasele, Dr Vishna Rasiah, Medhat Atalla (consultant), Dr Yusuf Patel (GP), Sadeq Elhowsh (surgeon), Craig Wakeham (GP), Manjeet Singh Riyat (consultant), Rajesh Kalraiya (paediatrician), Mamoona Rana,Dr Kamlesh Kumar Masson, Dr Krishan Arora, Dr Peter Tun, Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, Dr Edmond Adedeji, Fayez Ayache (GP), Syed Zishan Haider (GP), Dr Alfa Saadu, Dr Anton Sebastianpillai, Dr Habib Zaidi, Dr Adil El Tayar.

The IFS report added that there was ‘unlikely’ to be a single explanation for the higher fatalities, but noted that minorities were more likely to be key workers.

Of all working-age Black Africans, a third are employed in these roles – 50 per cent more than the white British population, according to the think-tank.

Meanwhile Pakistani, Indian and Black African men are 90 per cent, 150 per cent and 310 per cent -more likely to work in healthcare than white British men, respectively.

Hospital workers are vulnerable to the virus because they are repeatedly exposed to higher doses of the bug than the general public.

The IFS adds that two-thirds of Bangladeshi men over the age of 60 have a long-term health condition that would put them at particular risk from infection

A total of 140 NHS staff (pictured, frontline staff) have died during the coronavirus pandemic 

Another possible factor behind disproportionately high death rates could be underlying health problems, the report said.

Two-thirds of Bangladeshi men over aged 60 have a long-term condition that would put them at particular risk from infection.

Ross Warwick, a research economist at IFS and co-author of the report, said: ‘When you account for the fact that most minority groups are relatively young overall, the number of deaths looks disproportionate in most ethnic minority groups.

‘There is unlikely to be a single explanation here and different factors may be more important for different groups.

‘For instance, while black Africans are particularly likely to be employed in key worker roles which might put them at risk, older Bangladeshis appear vulnerable on the basis of underlying health conditions.’

The former Labour shadow home secretary also asked about the NHS surcharge for migrants, adding: ‘It cannot be right that NHS migrant workers who are frequently BAME, pay twice for the NHS, first in taxation, then through the surcharge and increasingly with their lives.’

Tory chairwoman of the women and equalities committee Caroline Nokes also asked: ‘Is (she confident) that the right data is being collected at sufficient pace?’

Responding, Ms Badenoch said: ‘We are very concerned by reports of a disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minorities. 

‘It is important that we understand what is underpinning these disparities and that we have robust and accurate data to do so in order to take effective action.’

She added: ‘This is an issue that I personally have taken a keen interest in and it’s one of the reasons why we’ve commissioned PHE to review exactly what the impact is on ethnic minorities…

‘It will be analysing how different factors including ethnicity, gender and age can impact on people’s health outcomes from Covid-19 and we’re confident that this review will be able to analyse available data on health outcomes for NHS staff as well. We expect it to be published at the end of May.’

Shadow women and equalities secretary Marsha de Cordova called on the Government to ensure ‘no more workers are risking their lives to save lives’.

She told the Commons: ‘PHE last week have asked all NHS trusts to risk assess their BAME staff and where necessary remove them from the front line.

‘Can I ask the minister what steps is her department taking to monitor the impact of this new measure and ensure that no more workers are risking their lives to save lives?’

Responding, Ms Badenoch said: ‘NHS England is the right body to make the decisions on how each and every care organisation should look after their staff.

‘We are not calling for ethnic minority medical staff to be taken off the front line, this will disproportionately impact ethnic minority communities, but we are doing everything we can to ensure that they are protected.’

Tory Peter Bone (Wellingborough) said: ‘Opening nurseries and at least schools for younger children would be a great benefit particularly for women.’

Ms Badenoch joked: ‘As a mother with three young children aged six, three and seven months I can assure you that no one is looking forward to nurseries and primary schools opening more than me.’

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