Concerns over how the NHS is being run during the pandemic are being raised after a lack of equipment and higher mortality rates in staff from ethnic minority backgrounds.
The coronavirus outbreak is having a severe impact on NHS staff both physically and mentally. The Guardian has reported that over 100 NHS staff members have already died from the virus.
Alarmingly however, according to an analysis carried out by the HSJ (Health Service Journal), 64% of this number were BAME (black, asian, minority ethnic) staff members. This is a major concern as the BAME staff only make up 20% of the workforce. This report was released on the 22nd April 2020.
The British Medical Association has called for an official inquiry to take place in order to understand why black and asian staff are more at risk.
One report from the Office for National Statistics has cited the socio-economic disadvantage as part of the reason but says that there are other factors yet to be explained.
A nurse working in a covid ward tells his side of the story and how he has been affected. They asked to be kept anonymous in fear of reprecussions.
In response to the alarming mortatily and morbidity rates of black and asian staff members, the NHS have drafted out a new plan to protect them.
It proposes that a risk assessment for BAME staff should be taken to ensure they are physically and mentally safe. Furthermore, staff who fail the fit test for masks either due to facial shape or facial hair reasons, should be redeployed.
However, there still exists the other pressing issue of the lack of PPE (personal protection equipment). The UK gov website gudiance states that anyone working within 2m of a suspected coronavirus patient should wear a mask, gloves, apron and eye protection.
Shortages of equipment have been reported all over the country with a poll from the 16,000 members of the British Medical Association revealing that 48% had to buy or receive their PPE from charities and local businesses.
UK – particularly politicians – are so proud & so teary-eyed about ‘heroes’ but we fail people in reality. Bunting is not enough to keep homeless ex-soldiers warm on the streets at night. Clapping has not stopped NHS staff dying. Give me truth over sentiment any day.
— Sonia Poulton (@SoniaPoulton) May 8, 2020
The notion of re-using single use equipment and the altering of expiry dates have been highly criticised with some hospitals/unions like The Royal College of Nursing allowing staff to refuse to treat patients if sufficient PPE is not provided.
“it doesn’t make you feel like you are in safe hands”
Nurse working in a covid ward
A pre-action letter has been sent to The Department of Health and Social Care by The Doctor’s Association UK (DAUK) with a request for an inquiry. This inquiry will outline the mistakes made by reacting too late and ensure families get their answers.
Addressing Impact of Covid-19 on BAME Staff in the NHS
A top five calls to action list:
- Every member of staff, current and returning, will have a risk assessment to keep them safe (assured by PHE)
- Every organisation with a CEO, and for primary care CCGs and ICSs, needs a BAME co-leader (assured by NHSE/I, CQC)
- Diversity at every level of the health and care system starts with the podium, through our senior decision-making forums and across all organisations and at all levels of the workforce (assured by NHSE/I, CQC)
- A bespoke health and wellbeing (including rehab and recovery) offer for BAME staff will be developed and rolled out for the system (led by NHSE/I)
- Every part of the system will use guidance on increasing diversity and inclusion in communications will be produced, led by the system (led by NHSE/I, gov)