Friday, 18 Sep 2020

PHE demands government action following BAME coronavirus deaths inquiry

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The unpublished document states that BAME people should follow specific health guidelines if there is a second outbreak of coronavirus. The guidance is one of several reported by Sky News that were overlooked in a major inquiry into the higher coronavirus death rates among BAME people.

In the 60-page report was submitted to the government on May 29, Public Health England (PHE) laid out seven guidelines, as well as observations from over 4,000 stakeholders on how to further prevent BAME people dying in far larger numbers from the disease.

This part of the inquiry was not published with PHE’s initial results on June 2.

Sources told Sky New that the government did not follow through because of “current global events”, such as the Black Lives Matter protests that are ongoing in the US.

The advice suggest the government should urgently “accelerate efforts” to focus on those communities and promote “competent health promotions” in case of a second outbreak of Covid-19.

It also suggests that risk evaluations for BAME workers should be implemented as soon as possible for a series of jobs. NHS England has already called for trusts to enforce this.

It states this will help “reduce the risk of employees exposure to the virus – especially for key workers” who are more exposed the virus.

Responding to the leaked report, Labour’s Shadow Equalities Secretary, Marsha De Cordova told Sky News: “It is a scandal that the government appears to have blocked a review that included recommendations that could help save black, Asian and minority ethnic lives during this crisis.

“The government’s failure to publish this review is yet another in a litany of failures to support BAME communities during COVID-19.

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“The government must now urgently publish these recommendations in full and provide an explanation for its lack of transparency on this review.”

This section of the PHE research, which was conducted by Professor Kevin Fenton, was set to be announced next Tuesday according to government sources, eight weeks on from when the inquiry was launched by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

However, BAME people have been put at risk due to the government’s lack of action and policy introduced.

In parliament last week, the equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said: “We were not able to make recommendations because data was not possible to collect – like morbidities, occupation and underlying health conditions.”

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Sky News has reported that the guidelines were submitted to the government on May 29.

Other recommendations add that more data around ethnicity and coronavirus-related deaths in the UK should be taken into account.

Currently, ethnicity is no reported for community deaths, meaning the true figures of BAME coronavirus deaths are still unknown.

The report says: “Mandate comprehensive and quality ethnicity data collection and recording as part of routine data collection systems.”

It says data like this will help “mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities”.

A Public Health England spokesman said: “The government commissioned PHE to conduct an epidemiological review to analyse how different factors can impact on people’s health outcomes from COVID-19.

“This was published in full on the 2 June.

“In parallel, Professor Fenton, on PHE’s behalf, engaged with a significant number of individuals and organisations within the BAME community, to hear their views, concerns and ideas about the impact of COVID-19 on their communities.

“This important engagement work will inform the work the equalities minister is now taking forward.

“We intend to both formally submit this work to the minister next week, and will publish it at the same time.”

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