'This pandemic has exposed huge disparities in the health of our nation'
People from black and Asian ethnic groups are twice as likely to die with Covid-19 than those from white backgrounds, a Public Health England report has found.
The report also confirmed that the highest diagnosis rates of the virus were in people of black ethnic groups.
Published yesterday, health secretary Matt Hancock referred to the troubling report as ‘timely’ because ‘right across the world people are angry about racial injustice.’
The findings come after pressure was put on ministers to carry out an investigation as to why people from ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by the virus. Of at least 169 UK front-line health and social care workers known to have died after contracting Covid-19, 63.9 per cent were black or from an ethnic minority.
With the report due to be released at the end of May, the Department of Health and Social care was forced to deny claims that its delay was down to official concerns of potential civil unrest linked to global outrage over the brutal killing of George Floyd on 25th May.
Addressing the findings, Hancock reflected on how the pandemic has exposed ‘huge disparities in the health of our nation.’
‘Black lives matter, as do those of the poorest areas of our country which have worse health outcomes and we need to make sure all of these considerations are taken into account, and action is taken to level-up the health outcomes of people across the country’, he said.
Whilst helpful in revealing the existing inequalities in our health system, the report has come under fire for not doing enough to protect those disproportionately at risk. Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, has called for ‘clear guidance and support’ from the government to help the NHS alleviate the dangers posed to key workers.
The equality watchdog also requested that the government produce a ‘comprehensive race equality strategy’ in response to the report.
Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: ‘People are more than statistics, and we cannot afford to ignore the broader context of entrenched race inequality across all areas of life. Only a comprehensive race equality strategy will address these issues.’