By Grahame Anderson

A group of influential people from BAME backgrounds has written a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock expressing their anger at the review into COVID-19 deaths. It’s yet to provide full recommendations.

The 30 individuals involved include the chair of the British Medical Association, representatives from the Muslim Doctors Association, the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, the British Islamic Medical Association and the Association of Pakistani Physicians and Surgeons UK.

Points of Action

In the letter they call for action to be taken on a number of points including:

  • “The failure of visible leadership that will engage and reform the institutional racism that Sir Simon Stevens [Chief Executive of NHS England] has referred to.”
  • “We are deeply concerned about… reports that ministers held back on recommendations made by the review team.”
  • “BAME health professionals and community members who have lost relatives, friends and colleagues are aghast, and question the value – and even the intent – of such a report.”
  • As a priority, PHE and the government must urgently publish, in full, any recommendations and actions it plans to take to address inequalities that BAME communities face. This is a crisis of confidence and credibility that we cannot afford.
  • “The system must move beyond rhetoric and implement urgent measures to safeguard BAME staff and communities.”
  • “We must move beyond statements and acts of solidarity. Failing to do so will mean yet more BAME lives and livelihoods will suffer.”

The letter was also addressed to Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch, and Public Health England. It also requests a meeting with both Mr Hancock and Ms Badenoch alongside Duncan Selbie CEO of PHE, and others.

Real Concerns

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “The NHS would be nothing without the thousands of BAME staff who give their all, day-in, day-out treating patients and ensuring the service can operate.

“But during this pandemic, we have seen the tragic disproportionate impact that Covid-19 has had on this invaluable group of staff.

“The BMA is joining with these organisations that represent ethnic minority medical staff in calling on the government to take urgent action to protect our BAME colleagues on the frontline, and to work with us so that any further review has the confidence of BAME communities, doctors and healthcare workers and provides tangible solutions that prevent any more losing their lives while fighting the pandemic on the front line.”

Several of the groups involved with the letter were consulted for the review either in person or in writing. Many have been present at round table meetings with Professor Kevin Fenton who has been leading the review for PHE.

Department of Health

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “Following the findings of the PHE report published earlier this week, the Government is taking action.

“More needs to be done.

“The Equalities Minister is now undertaking further work, to protect our communities from the impact of Covid-19.”