The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the inequalities BAME groups face in relation to health. Following a number of delays, the inquiry ‘Disparities in the Risk and Outcomes from Covid-19’ was released on 2 June. The review, commissioned by the government under pressure from the Labour Party, confirmed that the risk of dying among those diagnosed with coronavirus is higher in those in BAME groups than in white ethnic groups.
After accounting for the effect of sex, age, deprivation and region, it found that people of Bangladeshi ethnicity were most at risk, with around twice the risk of death than people of white British ethnicity. People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other black ethnicity had between 10% and 50% higher risk of death when compared to white British.
I was disappointed that the Government failed to come forward with proposals to actually protect these vulnerable groups. As Opposition Chief Whip, part of my job is to help manage the Business in the House of Commons for the Labour Party. Last Thursday, I supported the tabling of an Urgent Question on this matter. During the Urgent Question, Labour pushed the government to call on all employers to risk assess their BAME employees. The Government’s Equalities Minister said that she will review existing policies and develop new ones. However, no date was given for when these might be introduced. Labour will continue to urge the Government to bring forward measures in this area as soon as possible.