BAME staff account for 60% of Covid-19 health worker deaths
Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff account for 60% of frontline healthcare worker deaths with coronavirus, new analysis indicates.
The PA news agency has verified the deaths of 166 frontline UK healthcare workers with Covid-19 since the start of March this year.
Of those, 100 workers came from BAME backgrounds, while 39 (23%) were white and 27 (16%) were of unknown ethnic origin.
The figures include people who were working in roles shortly before their deaths where they were likely to come into contact with patients.
Staff at care homes have not been included in the figures as not enough reliable data was available.
Ninety-two of the 100 BAME workers lived in England and eight were from Wales. There were none verified from Scotland or Northern Ireland.
In England, BAME staff make up 20% of the NHS workforce. By comparison, 62% of the health workers who died in England were BAME.
The Government has been investigating why BAME communities have been disproportionately affected, with social, cultural and economic factors all thought to be possible contributors.
Joan Saddler, director of partnerships and equality at the NHS Confederation, said BAME staff appeared more likely to work in lower-level jobs on general wards, where there might be less PPE provision than in high intensive critical units.
Almost half (49%) of BAME staff whose deaths were verified by PA worked as nurses or healthcare assistants, while 30% were doctors.
A lot of people don’t want to do those jobs, they are hard work.
“People who are dying are not in (critical care) environments — why? You could argue we are getting PPE in those environments,” Ms Saddler told the PA news agency.
“People on the wards tend to be Band 4 and 5. A lot of people don’t want to do those jobs, they are hard work.
“They are understaffed for a range of reasons and so there is something about those most difficult jobs, the people who tend to come in at that entry-level.”
A survey from the Royal College of Nursing found that BAME staff have experienced the greatest PPE shortages.
Less than half (43%) of respondents from a BAME background said they had enough eye and face protection — a stark contrast to 66% of white staff who said they felt properly equipped.
The fit of PPE could also be an issue. According to the NHS Confederation, some Muslim staff have experienced difficulties fitting facemasks and goggles over hijabs while others with religious beards have had problems with face masks.
Ms Saddler said that other factors, such as lower incomes and living standards for such workers, could also increase their likelihood of catching the virus.
“What is clear is we need to act. Even if we don’t know why we need to keep people safe,” she added.
NHS staff survey data also consistently shows BAME staff report a higher level of discrimination and harassment. Staff have also reported they do not feel confident making demands for PPE and testing for Covid-19.
South Wales agency nurse Leilani Medel, 41, was one of 24 Filipino workers to die as the health service struggled to cope with the virus.
Ms Medel’s aunt, Marisa Weaver, said she believes a cultural reluctance to speak up was a contributing factor in her death.
She said: “We do not want to speak and because we are so worried that we will lose our jobs and we will be reprimanded. It’s in our nature and culture that we have to oblige what we have been told.
“I know my niece did not speak that much. She did her job but she did not want to complain.
“We respect everyone and we do not want to offend even when you know your life is in danger and you need to be protected because you do not want to be scolded.”
Around three in ten of the BAME staff who died were based in London. Among them was “much-loved” GP Yusuf Patel.
His cousin, Dr Mohamed Enayat, also works in medicine and believes BAME people could be genetically more susceptible to complications from the virus, though this remains unproven.
Dr Enayat, from LMS Health, a London centre specialising in preventative and regenerative medicine, said: “I suspect there is a genetic predisposition that we all carry, but some people manifest in our ability to mount a hyper-inflammation.
“The issue with Covid: the dangerous part is the inflammation your body mounts as an unhealthy immune response.
“Some people don’t go on to develop that and they are able to ride out the symptoms, but for those people that get sick with it, they have this hyper inflammation.
“Through our exposure to stresses and our general underlying health status, I think it probably does have a genetic composition to it.”
But Dr Enayat agreed that economic inequalities were also adversely affecting BAME communities, adding: “Health, in many ways, is a luxury good.”
“We need to work harder to educate those communities around their lifestyle choices and the impact on their health.”
An NHS spokesman said: “Ensuring that we protect all NHS staff will always remain an absolute top priority, so the NHS has asked every trust to take the precautionary measure of risk-assessing staff at potentially greater risk, and if any colleague is concerned, they should raise this within their trust and must be listened to.”
- Abdorreza Sedghi, GP, South East
- Abdul Gellaledin, Ambulance care assistant, Greater London
- Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, Consultant Urologist, Greater London
- Adekunle Enitan, ICU Nurse, South East
- Adil El Tayar, Transplant surgeon, Greater London
- Afua Fofie, Healthcare assistant, Greater London
- Alanzo Smith, Mental Health worker, Greater London
- Alfa Saadu, Doctor, East of England
- Alice Kit Tak Ong, Nurse, Greater London
- Allen Macalalad, Theatre Assistant, Wales
- Amarante Dias, Hospital worker, South West
- Amged El-Hawrani, Consultant, East Midlands
- Amor Gatinao, Nurse, Greater London
- Amrik Bamotra, Radiology support worker, Greater London
- Andrew Ekene Nwankwo, Nurse, South East
- Anton Sebastianpillai, Consultant, Greater London
- Anujkumar Kuttikkottu Pavithran, Nurse, East Midlands
- Areema Nasreen, Nurse, West Midlands
- Ate Wilma Banaag, Nurse, Greater London
- Augustine Agyei-Mensah, Learning disabilities nurse, East Midlands
- Carlos Sia, Healthcare assistant, West Midlands
- Cecilia Fashanu, Nurse, North West
- Charles Kwame Tanor, Mental health worker, West Midlands
- Dawn Marshall, Support recovery worker, West Midlands
- Dominga David, Nurse, Wales
- Donald Suelto, Nurse, Greater London
- Donna Campbell, Health support worker, Wales
- Edem Dzigbede, Nurse, Greater London
- Edmond Adedeji, Doctor, South West
- Elbert Rico, Hospital porter, South East
- Eleuterio Gibela, Domestic worker, North West
- Elma Cavalida, Maternity assistant, Greater London
- Elvira Bucu, Healthcare assistant, South East
- Esther Akinsanya, Nurse, Greater London
- Eyitolami Olaolorun, Nurse
- Fayez Ayache, GP, East of England
- Furqan Ali Siddiqui, Doctor, North West
- Gladys Mujajati (Nyemba), Mental health nurse, East Midlands
- Glen Corbin, Nurse, Greater London
- Grace Kungwengwe, Nurse, Greater London
- Grant Maganga, Mental health nurse, North West
- Habib Zaidi, Doctor, East of England
- Habibhai Babu, Senior House Officer, Greater London
- Jenelyn Carter, Healthcare assistant, Wales
- Jennie Sablayan, Haematology nurse, Greater London
- Jermaine Wright, Senior pharmacy technician, Greater London
- Jitendra Rathod, Surgeon, Wales
- John Alagos, Nurse, Greater London
- Joselito Habab, Nurse, North West
- Josephine Peter (Matseke) (Manini), Nurse, North West
- Josiane Zauma Ebonja Ekoli, Nurse, Yorkshire and the Humber
- Julie Masinja Edward, Nurse, South East
- Juliet Alder, Health care assistant, Greater London
- Julius Sana, Support worker at a private hospital, Wales
- Jun Terre, Nurse, South East
- Kamlesh Kumar Masson, Doctor, East of England
- Karamat Ullah Mirza, GP, East of England
- Kenneth Lambatan, Cardiology research nurse, Greater London
- Khalid Jamil, Health care assistant, East of England
- Khulisani (Khuli) Nkala, Mental health nurse, Yorkshire and the Humber
- Krishan Arora, GP, Greater London
- Leilani Dayrit, Nurse, West Midlands
- Leilani Medel, Nurse, Wales
- Lillian Sandra Mudzivare, Senior mental health nurse, West Midlands
- Linnette Cruz, Dental Nurse, Wales
- Lola Aladejana, Bank staff/receptionist, Greater London
- Lourdes Campbell, Healthcare assistant, North West
- Mahadaye Jagroop, Nurse, West Midlands
- Mamoona Rana, Trainee registrar in psychiatry, Greater London
- Manjeet Singh Riyat, Emergency consultant, East Midlands
- Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, Nurse, Greater London
- Maureen Ellington, Healthcare assistant, South West
- Medhat Atalla, Doctor, Yorkshire and the Humber
- Melujean Ballesteros, Nurse, Greater London
- Michael Allieu, Staff nurse, Greater London
- Miharajiya Mohideen, Healthcare assistant, Greater London
- Mohamed Sami Shousha., Researcher/Consultant histopathologist, Greater London
- Momudou Dibba, Housekeeper, East of England
- Nasir Khan, Locum doctor, North West
- Nassar Hussain, Radiographer, Greater London
- Norman Austria, Healthcare assistant, East Midlands
- Onyenachi Obasi, Nurse/health visitor, Greater London
- Oscar King Jr, Hospital porter, South East
- Paul Kabasele, Eye doctor, Greater London
- Peter Tun, Associate specialist, South East
- Philomina Cherian, Staff nurse, South East
- Pooja Sharma, Pharmacist, South East
- Poornima Nair, Doctor (GP), North East
- Rajesh Kalraiya, Community paediatrician, Greater London
- Ruben Munoz, Nursing assistant, South East
- Saad Al-Dubbaisi, Doctor, North West
- Sadeq Elhowsh, Orthopaedic surgeon, North West
- Safaa Alam, Midwife, West Midlands
- Tariq Shafi, Doctor, South East
- Thaung Htaik, Consultant, South West
- Thomas Harvey, Healthcare assistant, Greater London
- Vishna Rasiah, Consultant neonatologist, West Midlands
- Vivek Sharma, OT at Medway Community Healthcare, South East
- Yusuf Patel, GP, Greater London
- Zishan (Syed) Haider, GP, Greater London