Disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities in West Midlands ‘avoidable’

28th Aug 2020
Disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on  BAME communities in West Midlands ‘avoidable’

Hamed Chapman

West Midlands Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities is an ‘urgent medical emergency’ — and was avoidable

BAME communities were disproportionally hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, and it was a situation that could have been avoided, according to a three-month inquiry of the impact in the West Midlands.

The Taskforce set up by Labour MP and Shadow Mayor for the West Midlands, Liam Byrne, said that it agreed with the judgement made by the regional NHS Medical Director that the disproportionate impact of the deadly virus on the BAME community ‘is not just an equality, diversity and inclusion issue — it is an urgent medical emergency.’

Men and women in the Black community were found to be over four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white people (4.2 and 4.3 times respectively), while men of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin were 3.6 times more likely and women 3.4 times more likely.
“As a result, this may now accelerate the trend already identified by

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, that in the poorest communities, improvements in life expectancy may now have come to a temporary halt,” the 42-page report said.

The Taskforce which has met for three months heard hours of first-hand testimony from families who lost loved ones to Covid-19. It presented ten key findings from the experience of families who suffered devastating loss and made thirty-five recommendations for ministers, Local MPs, the Mayor of the West Midlands, NHS and Social Care leaders, Public Health Directors and local councils.

Byrne said that without doubt, the evidence heard from families was the “most harrowing and distressing that any of us have heard in public life.”

This included families holding back from seeking help because of worry about the care they would receive and from BAME workers on the front-line having to make their own PPE or to ‘pull strings’ to visit dying loved ones.
He warned that there was “a significant risk of ongoing trauma and mental health issues because so many have lost loved ones, without the normal traditions of being able to say goodbye.”

The MP insisted that the Government “must now call an independent inquiry” to learn lessons and said he will be presenting the report to the House of Commons to demand they do. Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Marsha de Cordova MP, said the finding reinforces what “ we already know about the structural and racial inequalities which have led to the Covid-19 pandemic hitting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities across the UK so very hard, no less so in the West Midlands.”

“Many Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic workers have been on the frontline throughout, as key workers, serving selflessly in the fight against coronavirus and to keep essential services running; they are saving lives and keeping our country going,” she said.

“The Government has had repeated warnings, repeated reports, repeated recommendations and yet has still consistently failed to act in a timely manner.” The report is being fed into Labour’s national inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities, which is being led by Baroness Doreen Lawrence, who commended the report.

The religious makeup of the West Midlands is 60.2% Christian, 21.6 % No religion, 6.7% Muslim, 2.4 % Sikh, 1.3% Hindu, 0.3% Buddhist, 0.1% Jewish.

 

Addressing Covid-19 disparities can no longer be delayed

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