Lib Dems demand action on disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME groups

A press release from the Liberal Democrats brings news of a push by the party’s MPs to ensure that the impact of coronavirus on BAME communities is handled better:

The Liberal Democrats are calling for new measures to improve monitoring of coronavirus in BAME communities and to ensure scrutiny of the Government’s recently announced review of the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on BAME groups. 

Citing the need for “swift and decisive action” which “will save lives” Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, the first MP of Palestinian descent, and Munira Wilson, the party’s Health spokesperson, are calling for immediate steps to tackle this pressing issue.

In a letter to the Health Secretary and Equalities Minister they call for the Government to:

  • Introduce questions about ethnicity to the NHS coronavirus status tracker
  • Step up delivery of PPE for NHS and social care staff, a significant proportion of whom are BAME
  • Commit to cross party scrutiny of the review process, including monitoring of Government action on recommendations arising from the review.

Munira Wilson, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care said:

The data from UK hospitals showing that BAME groups are disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 is alarming. Yet we don’t have a complete picture to confirm the extent of these trends in the UK as some key data simply isn’t being collected.

That is why we’re asking the Government to add a question on ethnicity to the official NHS coronavirus survey. This data will be vital in informing our response to and management of this virus, making sure that all communities get the support they need.

In addition, given that a significant percentage of frontline NHS and social care staff are from BAME groups, the need for adequate PPE could not be more urgent. The Government must rapidly address the unacceptable, long-running issues of shortages of this lifesaving kit.

The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented threat, leaving the most vulnerable in society at risk. We must ensure that BAME communities are not left behind by the Government’s response to this crisis.

Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said:

Statistics confirming the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities are shocking and warrant close and urgent analysis.

Launching a review to better understand the impact of Covid on these groups is a first step, but the Government must be absolute in their commitment to acting on enacting any recommendations that result from the review process.

We must also ensure that there is full scrutiny of this process by MPs right across the political spectrum. That is why we are calling for a cross-party taskforce to oversee the review process and monitor the roll out of measures required to tackle this issue.

The text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Matt and Liz,

We hope you are both well and able to stay safe at this time.

We’re glad that the Government has announced it will launch a review into why BAME communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. There are some immediate steps the Government can take, right now, that will make a difference:

  • Include the option to disclose your ethnicity and gender on the NHS’s coronavirus symptom survey online. This is a key opportunity to gather data, with people’s consent, to add to our understanding of what is happening.
  • Commit to stepping up the delivery of PPE to NHS staff, as a high number of those who have died on the frontline recently are BAME.
  • Commit to a firm timetable for the publication of this review, and the delivery of its recommendations.

A review is a good first step in taking action to address this. To make the review as effective as possible we are asking you to confirm that it will:

  • Include economic, as well as medical, research.
  • Include specific analysis and recommendations to better protect BAME staff in the NHS and social care.
  • Make clear recommendations for actions, that the Government will firmly commit to enacting as a priority.

It is vital the Government commits to acting as soon as the review makes its recommendations. Swift and decisive action will save lives.

We hope you agree that this must not become a political football. A cross-party taskforce should therefore be convened to make sure the action is taken following the review, including overseeing the rollout of any measures introduced to tackle this urgent issue

This is all part of creating a strategy for addressing coronavirus’ disproportionate impact on people who are BAME. It’s important we work together, in the national interest, to stop this now.

Thank you for considering our recommendations, and we look forward to hearing from you at your earliest possible convenience.

Yours sincerely

Layla Moran & Munira Wilson


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