Dr Chaand Nagpaul CBE, Chairman of the BMA Board, expressed concern about reports that 69 pages on seven recommendations were removed from last week’s Public Health England report.
“I find it inexplicable that the government did not publish the full report at a time when the BAME community was suffering so disproportionately from the virus, but also at a time when there was a global outcry and outrage over racial inequality,” Nagpaul said.
On Thursday, a high-level academic revealed that government advice on how to protect BAME communities from coronavirus has not yet been released.
The safeguard proposals were drawn up in a separate document from the review published last week showing that Covide-19 is killing a disproportionate number of people from ethnic minorities. The review was widely criticized for not considering possible reasons for the disparities or for making recommendations on how to resolve them.
Last week, Kemi Badenoch, the Minister for Women and Equality, told the Commons that Public Health England (PHE) was unable to make recommendations in its report on BAME people and coronavirus because some of the necessary data were not available.
But Professor Raj Bhopal, a scientist who had been asked to peer-review the unpublished recommendations, told the BBC that Parliament had “not been told the whole truth.”
Bhopal, of the University of Edinburgh, described the recommendation document as a “secret or [government] report ready to go to the press.”
He added: “If you consult with the public, you have to publish the results. Otherwise, you have wasted their time, you have wasted your own time, you have wasted taxpayers’ money, and you have lost confidence.
PHE said the recommendations would be published next week at the same time as they were submitted to ministers.
“We feel like we’re [the review] did not do justice to the objectives of an investigation and it did not do justice to the BAME community,” Nagpaul said. “The purpose of the review was that it should be a basis for change. Therefore, a review without the recommendation was essentially a statistical analysis, and it was not the review that we all expected to be published. And now we know why it was not published, it’s because it wasn’t the full report.
In the letter, the BMA President wrote: “A clear answer is needed as to why these important pages and recommendations were omitted from publication, especially when it is so essential that steps be taken to save lives now and reduce racial inequality.”
The letter continues: “The BMA requested this review and provided our views, and we were extremely disappointed that the issues raised in our brief were not addressed in the report published on June 2. It now appears that the pages dealing with these issues and the contributions of other stakeholders may have been removed from the final report.
An EPH spokesperson said: “The government has asked the EPH to conduct an epidemiological review to analyze how different factors can affect people’s health outcomes from Covide 19. It was published in its entirety on 2 June.
“At the same time, Professor Kevin Fenton, on behalf of PHE, has engaged with a significant number of individuals and organizations within the BAME community to hear their views, concerns and ideas on the impact of Covide-19 on their communities.
“This important work of engagement will inform the work that the Minister of Equality is currently pursuing. We intend to formally submit this work to the minister next week and we will publish it at the same time.