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NHS chief calls for ‘big conversation’ to address BAME coronavirus death concerns

16th June 2020 | By Liz Mattock | Posted in

A local NHS chief is calling for a big conversation with local statutory and public sector bodies in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) in a bid to reduce health inequalities, following Public Health England’s (PHE) recent review into the disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19.

The recent review confirmed that people from BAME (Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities) groups are more likely to die from COVID-19 than people from white, ethnic groups. The findings also confirmed evidence from a number of other studies, raising significant concerns relating to the disproportionate impact of the virus on BAME communities.

Andy Williams, Chief Executive of LLR Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “Whilst I welcome Public Health England’s review I am also looking forward to the Government’s publication of the safeguarding proposals for BAME groups, which I understand is due to be published shortly.

“In LLR, we need to take the opportunity to address inequalities in the pandemic context and more widely. The local NHS will be having a big conversation – that is, a series of progressive conversations with statutory and public sector organisations, to really bring this issue to the table and prioritise immediate actions to protect our BAME communities.

“I hear what local people and our staff from BAME groups are telling us and we are already doing some excellent work with these groups. We have been engaging with the LLR population including BAME communities throughout the pandemic and are currently reviewing their feedback based on their experiences and concerns. We have also been protecting our BAME staff with clearly targeted risk assessment processes and our medical workforce through home visiting services to reduce risks to our BAME colleagues.

“We are continuing to reassure our communities with targeted engagement and advice through media in various languages and formats and are actively providing opportunities for them to get involved. We are also promoting the excellent work being led by the Centre of BME Health and the University of Leicester and look forward to working more closely together to address the issues highlighted by the findings.

“It is important however, to acknowledge that biological and the socio-economic inequality and inequity in society has been present for decades, well before COVID-19. Overcrowded housing, with generations all living under one roof, occupational risks associated with certain jobs and cultural lifestyles, including diet and habits all play a part. The pandemic has highlighted the concerning effects of this legacy – and we are 100 per cent committed to addressing the health inequalities that this legacy presents.

“Although our conversations with local stakeholders will complement the proactive work we are
already doing, I believe that talking is not enough. Our conversations will escalate in a local action
plan and our local response to the system-wide challenge we face.”

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