Doctors' union slams 'missed opportunity' BAME Covid deaths report

Doctors’ union slams Matt Hancock’s BAME coronavirus deaths report as a ‘missed opportunity’ and says it gives NO recommendations for action to save lives of frontline medics amid calls for a public inquiry

  • Head of the BMA Chaand Nagpaul said report was a bland ‘statistical analysis’
  • It revealed Bame Britons have a much higher risk of death than white people 
  • Nagpaul: ‘It gets us no closer towards taking action’ to protect Bame Britons 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The doctors union has blasted the Government for failing to recommend ways to save the lives of non-white medics on the frontline against coronavirus.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said a report released by Matt Hancock yesterday which showed Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (Bame) Britons were dying at a higher rate than their white counterparts was a ‘missed opportunity’.

Its chairman, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, dismissed it as a bland ‘statistical analysis’ which offered no practical help to cut the devastating death rate.

The Public Health England report appeared to be rushed out yesterday afternoon after a wave of criticism that it might be withheld amid the angry scenes on the streets in the US. Labour’s Keir Starmer had demanded the government stop making ‘excuses’ and reveal the findings.

It revealed Bame Britons have a much higher risk of death than white people, as do those from poorer backgrounds, men and anyone who is obese or suffering from diabetes.   

Dr Nagpaul said: ‘It is a statistical analysis, which while important, gets us no closer towards taking action that avoids harm to BAME communities. 

BMA chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul dismissed the report as a bland ‘statistical analysis’ which offered no practical help to cut the devastating death rate

Matt Hancock defended the report at last night’s Downing Street press conference, telling the public ‘black lives matter’ and saying he he ‘shares the anger about racial injustice felt around the world’

‘The BMA and the wider community were hoping for a clear action plan to tackle the issues, not a reiteration of what we already know. 

‘We need practical guidance, particularly in relation to how healthcare workers and others working in public-facing roles will be protected.’

The PHE report showed that, after accounting for the effect of sex, age, deprivation and region, people of Bangladeshi ethnicity have around twice the risk of death than people who are white British.

Those of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Other Asian, Caribbean and Other Black ethnicity have between a 10 per cent and 50 per cent higher risk of death when compared to white British. 

Meanwhile, the highest diagnosis Covid-19 rates per 100,000 population are in black people (486 females and 649 males), and are lowest in white people (220 in females and 224 in males).

Compared to previous years, death from all causes are now almost four times higher than expected among black males, almost three times higher in Asian males and almost two times higher in white males.

Among females, deaths were almost three times higher in black, mixed and other females, and 2.4 times higher in Asian females compared with 1.6 times in white females.

The study said the ‘relationship between ethnicity and health is complex and likely to be the result of a combination of factors’.

Matt Hancock defended the report at last night’s Downing Street press conference, telling the public ‘black lives matter’ and saying he he ‘shares the anger about racial injustice felt around the world’.

He said that equalities minister Kemi Badenoch would look at the issue further, adding: ‘We will put action in place as soon as we can. We won’t wait for a report.’ 

Denying that the government tried to hold off publication of an official inquiry into high BAME deaths rates to avoid inflaming tensions, Mr Hancock told the daily Downing Street briefing the findings were ‘timely’.

‘This is a particularly timely publication, because right across the world, people are angry about racial injustice,’ he said. ‘And I get that. Black lives matter.’

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