The Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Thursday published figures for coronavirus-related deaths by ethnic group for England and Wales, showing that the risk of death involving the virus among BME groups is significantly higher than that of those of white ethnicity.
Responding to the figures, Joan Saddler, director of partnerships and equality at the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said:
“These figures are extremely alarming and reflect what BME communities and clinicians have highlighted internationally. Even when taking into account age, black people are more than four times more likely to die from a COVID-19-related issue than white people. Even after taking account of other specific characteristics, such as disability and health status, the risk of a COVID-19-related death for people of ‘black ethnicity’ is almost twice as high as for those of ‘white ethnicity’.
“The picture the data paints is stark: people from all BME communities are experiencing a disproportionate impact from COVID-19 and the greatest impact is in the black communities.
“This underscores the necessity of a more comprehensive review than the one currently being led by Public Health England. If we are to understand all the factors contributing to the deaths in our communities, and recognise the sacrifice of those who have already died, we must make sure the data, plus the experience and leadership of our communities, are used to drive real change and prevent the issues once again being swept under the carpet.
“This will enable us to ensure the NHS and other sectors are reset so that everyone works together to help eliminate this disparity in health outcomes and guarantee equitable access to health and healthcare according to needs. Successive governments have failed to address the health inequalities that have existed in the UK for decades, and introduced many policies that have exacerbated the problems. It’s long past time to rectify this.”