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BAME Covid Deaths Task Force Enquiry

The Covid-19 BAME Evidence Gathering Taskforce, established in June, has published an inquiry into the Covid-19 fatalities in the West Midlands’ BAME community. Drawing on ‘harrowing and distressing’ testimonies and accounts from witnesses, the inquiry reported that ‘perfect storm of factors meant that the West Midlands BAME community was hit hardest – yet the data and funding to stop a second wave is not in place.’

The inquiry reports that a fear of inequitable treatment that might be received in the NHS deterred many in the BAME community from asking for help quickly enough, resulting in many suffering in silence for too long. It also found that a stigma around Covid-19 began to grow in the BAME community, contributing to conspiracy theories and the wish of some families to attempt to remove the label of Covid-19 on death certificates. When seeking treatment, the BAME community experienced a healthcare system that was overwhelmed and struggling to cope. 

The report suggests that the voice of the BAME community has simply not been heard or considered in the way our health systems are designed and delivered, and many also felt that there were failings in the way information was communicated to them. Covid-19 also disrupted the traditions and processes for grieving that are important to BAME communities, which has created increased mental health risks. Clearly, lessons need to be learnt from the previous failings in the way BAME communities were affected by the pandemic, however, the inquiry expresses a lack of confidence that these lessons will be learnt and that adequate changes will be made without external pressure.

The report proposes its own plan for action, recommending to ministers that the government commence a formal, judge-led public inquiry into the Covid-19 fatalities in the BAME community, and bring forward methods to ensure that death certificates record ethnicity data, as has been the norm in Scotland for ten years, but is lacking in English law. Ethnicity should also be a factor in the track and trace systems which are due to be rolled out over the coming months.

Read full report here.