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Action needed to address the disproportionate number of deaths from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities due to Covid-19

BASW statement following Public Health England report ‘Disparities in the risk and outcomes of Covid-19’

People from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities are over-represented among the people who have died due to Covid-19.

This has been suspected for some time but has now been confirmed in the Public Health England report ‘Disparities in the risk and outcomes of Covid-19’: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/890258/disparities_review.pdf

We also understand that evidence that had been gathered by the review directly from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities (and other organisations and individuals) had been omitted from the report.

BASW calls for:

  • The government to set out an action plan to address the disproportionate number of deaths from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities and clear guidance to ensure that people who are at greater risk can be protected and safe.
  • Material that was redacted from the report to be restored. This material consists of representations from a wide range of Black, Asian and ethnic minority community organisations and individuals. The redacted material provides crucial evidence and the fact that material has been removed erodes trust in the Government.
  • Rather than simply provide a written description and acknowledgement of the issues, the report should set out a full analysis of the reasons for the over-representation of Black, Asian and ethnic minority deaths.

 

Context

Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities are over-represented among fatalities from Covid-19. Early medial indications of this have subsequently been confirmed by an official government report by Public Health England entitled ‘Disparities in the risk and outcomes of Covid-19’, which was published on 2 June, 2020.

Poor health outcomes (including early death) are closely associated with poverty. The Public Health England Report also confirms this, recognising that mortality rates from Covid-19 in the most deprived areas of England has been more than double that of the least deprived areas. Poor health is also associated with inadequate accommodation, which goes hand-in-hand with poverty. Poor housing also tends to be geographically concentrated. Such areas can also suffer from proximity to areas of higher pollution e.g. located near busy roads, which in turn impacts on chest and heart conditions. Sub-optimal health care (e.g. less GP clinics per head of the population, less proximity to second and third tier hospital services) is also associated with poor areas. 

Individuals from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities are more likely to be in poverty, are more likely to be living in inadequate over-crowded accommodation and for the other reasons identified more likely to have poor health outcomes. They are also more likely to suffer specific ‘underlying health conditions’ e.g. diabetes which are thought to be a factor in contracting the virus.  Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities are also employed in roles that face an enhanced risk with contracting Covid e.g. front-line roles in health, care home staff, and roles in transport.