Plans to tackle alarming Covid-19 death rates among black and Asian NHS staff by removing them from the front line do not go far enough, according to top doctors.
A leading medical body is now calling for high-risk ethnic minority health workers to wear top-end personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times, even when treating non-coronavirus patients.
Two-thirds of virus victims who worked in the NHS have been of black or Asian origin, while a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed Britons of black African heritage are three-and-a-half times more likely to die than people from other backgrounds.
A leading medical body is now calling for high-risk ethnic minority health workers to wear top-end personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times
Coronavirus patients of Pakistani heritage were two-and-a-half times more likely to die than white counterparts.
The plea for greater protection comes after an investigation in last week’s Mail on Sunday revealed calls among Britain’s top doctors for an urgent probe into the ‘disturbing’ number of Covid-19 deaths among black and Asian health workers.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has since written to all trusts urging them to assess the risk to ethnic minority workers – and remove them from the front line of Covid-19 care if necessary. But experts say this is not enough.
Dr Chandra Kanneganti, chairman of the British International Doctors Association (BIDA), says: ‘We want black and Asian staff given full protective equipment wherever they are in the hospital.
‘There are patients in hospital with other ailments who may have the virus but do not have symptoms.’
BIDA also wants them to have the same high-grade masks used on coronavirus wards, providing this does not deprive others working face-to-face with infected patients.
These masks are made from a synthetic fibre that filters out fine air particles. But, crucially, they have a valve on the front that releases air, preventing a build-up of moisture that stops them from working – as can happen with inferior versions.
The plea for greater protection comes after an investigation in last week’s Mail on Sunday, pictured, revealed calls among Britain’s top doctors for an urgent probe into the ‘disturbing’ number of Covid-19 deaths among black and Asian health workers
Scientists are currently investigating whether genetic differences may explain this disparity in death statistics.
In addition to the high-end PPE, the British Medical Association has demanded that a compulsory risk-scoring system is introduced nationally across all NHS trusts to ensure every member of staff is properly assessed.
Without it, the BMA fears, trusts will implement their own form of assessment, which could see some high-risk doctors and nurses left on the front line dealing with infected patients.
‘Each trust needs specific guidance on how to assess staff, otherwise we could see different interpretations across the country,’ says BMA chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul.
Just two out of 200 or so NHS hospitals have so far agreed to boost protection for ethnic minority staff by providing high-grade masks.
Source: Daily Mail | Health News