Failure to record ethnicity of victims of Covid-19 is “scandal,” says BMA chief | News from the world


The government’s failure to record and publish real-time ethnicity data for Covid-19 patients is a life-threatening scandal, according to the president of the British Medical Association.

Speaking to Observer, Dr. Chaand Nagpaul said, “This is not a problem that should require further campaigns. It would be a scandal if it required more lobbying because data recording should start now, not tomorrow. When you have such statistics, it’s an instruction to the government to act. “

Hospitals are not currently required to record the ethnicity of admitted, seriously ill or deceased patients. There have been over 14,000 hospital deaths in the UK from the virus, but an independent study of the first 5,578 patients has shown that Covid-19 disproportionately affects ethnic minorities.

On Friday, the national intensive care research and audit center revealed that 34.5% of Covid-19 patients in intensive care were black, Asian or from an ethnic minority, although they represent only 13 % of the general population.

While BAME workers represent 44% of the NHS workforce, they represented 68% of the 57 NHS workers known to have died from the virus. So far, each of the 14 doctors believed to have died is from an ethnic minority.

Employees of BAME hospital in full PPE carrying a blue cart

BAME staff represents 44% of the NHS workforce. Photography: Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty

It is feared that more BAME primary care physicians who feel less able to speak could lead to disproportionate infections and deaths.

“We know very well that doctors have been pressured to see patients, but have not felt protected enough, with shortages of PPE,” said Nagpaul.

“Evidence from the BMA and the General Medical Council has previously shown that BAME doctors are twice as likely not to complain about workplace safety as they are much more afraid of facing recriminations or reprisals… intimidation and harassment have [also] been recorded at much higher levels.

On Thursday, the Department of Health and Welfare agreed to launch an official review of the BAME pandemic of deaths to be led by NHS England and Public Health England (PHE). The announcement would have hidden the NHS, which made reference to the ObserverInquiries to PHE.

Housing, community and local government official Robert Jenrick was asked about the effects of coronavirus on people in BAME communities at a press conference on Saturday.

“There appears to be a disproportionate impact of the virus on those in BAME communities,” he said. “For this reason, the chief medical officer commissioned work from Public Health England to better understand this problem. “

He said it was “fair that we do extensive research quickly” in order to “understand it better.”

BMA President Dr. Chaand Nagpaul urges government to act now.

BMA President Dr. Chaand Nagpaul urges government to act now.

Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, said: “This is something that concerns me greatly and I know that the Chief Medical Officer is also concerned.

“And I think it’s entirely fair that he asked Public Health England, which has the expertise … to examine it in detail and to understand clearly what could explain the increased risks and deaths in some ethnic communities.

“In the NHS England, obviously, a number of our employees … come from these ethnic groups, and we are also actively anticipating this work, what we need to do to support and, perhaps, protect them specifically . “

Nagpaul said the review was welcome, but the government could immediately ask all hospitals to record the ethnicity of the patients.

“We desperately need to change the collection methods [of patient information] and what we collect to understand what’s going on, ”he said. “It puts lives in danger… it can’t be touched under the rug; it would be morally wrong. “

NHS England senior source admitted Observer that the actual number of BAME NHS staff members who have died from the virus may be higher, given the limited data currently available. The organization said it was “late” trying to confirm the deaths of staff reported for the first time on social media.

Jonathan Ashworth, the Secretary of State for Health, called for transparency. “It is extremely important that government ministers insist that this data be urgently collected and published, so that we can have a complete picture of how the virus affects all communities,” he said.

On Sunday, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, is expected to draw attention to the “structural racism in our society” that makes BAME communities so badly affected by the virus. It will pay tribute to ethnic minorities who are largely over-represented in front-line positions – such as caregivers, supermarket workers and bus drivers – and who are therefore at much higher risk of getting coronavirus in the first place. .

According to Sir Michael Marmot, chairman of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health, the large disparity in the ethnic composition of Covid-19 deaths is announced by wider inequality.

“We know from research that being in poverty reduces your life expectancy and is strongly correlated with poorer health outcomes,” he said. In February, a follow-up to Marmot’s historical review in 2010 concluded that inequalities in public health have worsened over the past decade.

He added, “If you don’t collect data, you don’t know there’s a problem. In the UK, BAME groups are much more likely to be in the lower socio-economic groups, to live in poorer conditions and overcrowded housing, and more likely to be in lower paid and insecure jobs. It means poor health.

“It also means that social distancing is much more difficult, especially for the elderly. Some of the most vulnerable people in our community live in large multi-generational homes. “

Yvonne Doyle, PHE’s medical director, said, “This is a very important problem, and detailed and careful work must be done before drawing any conclusions.”


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