Coronavirus: NHS warns BAME staff 'at potentially greater risk'

Posted by ruben-pillai
While the measure is described as "precautionary", figures show most health workers killed by coronavirus are black or Asian. NHS England has recommended health trusts assess black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) workers as "at potentially greater risk" from coronavirus. The official guidance says UK and international data indicates people from BAME backgrounds are being "disproportionately affected by COVID-19". NHS England has written to all trusts across the nation, advising them to carry out risk assessments for workers from those backgrounds. NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens says Public Health England has been asked by the Department for Health and Social Care to investigate the matter. He added: "In advance of their report and guidance, on a precautionary basis we recommend employers should risk assess staff at a potentially greater risk and make appropriate arrangements accordingly." While the measure is described as "precautionary", figures show that BAME healthcare workers within the NHS are dying disproportionately with COVID-19. Latest Sky News analysis suggests 60% of the total number of deaths among NHS staff with the disease are from a BAME background. The Department of Health and Social Care announced on 16 April that a review would be conducted, to investigate why BAME people were being affected disproportionately. Scientists have already highlighted factors including: :: Increased underlying health conditions among BAME people, such as heart conditions, type 2 diabetes and respiratory issues :: BAME people are more likely to work in essential roles such as bus drivers, taxi drivers, shop keepers and in health and social care :: BAME families are more likely to live in multi-generational, overcrowded homes than white counterparts. Dr Habib Naqvi, the NHS director for workforce race and equality, previously told Sky News: "The fact that a high number of black and minority ethnic staff are dying from this pandemic is a worry for us. "It's a challenge for us but we need to rise to that challenge and what we need to do is look at what we can put in place right now to support our staff." Speaking to Sky News, the chair of the British Medical Assosciation Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: "What this requires is a tool that will take into account the BAME status of a doctor as being a risk in its own right. "Combining that with other factors such as age, other medical conditions and the sort of work that they do and to put that all together. "This is the sort of work academics and scientists do already, what we're calling for is for NHS itself to develop such a tool which is then applied and used by all employers in the NHS." He added: "The priority now must be to avoid any further unnecessary deaths of our BAME healthcare workforce. These are people who are providing such vital care to our NHS." "There are many ways in which our healthcare workers can be used without putting themselves at risk. What we need to do is identify who they are and put them in work where they're not in high risk of the infection. "We must protect them properly and allow them to provide a service to the NHS." Dr Nagpaul called for such measures to take place at the beginning of the month when signs were emerging that BAME people were being disproportionately affected. He feels that had this been brought in earlier, lives potentially could have been saved. Article sourced from Sky News - https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-nhs-warns-ethnic-minority-workers-at-potentially-greater-risk-11980713

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