BAME doctors twice as likely as white colleagues to be sent onto wards without adequate PPE

Doctors from black and ethnic minorities are twice as likely as white medics to be sent on the ward without Personal Protective Equipment, a major survey suggests.

The polling of almost 7,500 doctors by the British Medical Association shows 39 per cent of BAME doctors had felt pressured to see a patient when they did not have adequate protection. 

In total, 19 per cent of white doctors said they had been in this situation.  And seven per cent of BAME doctors said they often experienced this situation, compared with 2 per cent of white doctors.

Two months ago, health chiefs issued guidance saying all BAME staff should be risk-assessed before being sent on the ward. 

It followed growing evidence that they were at far greater risk of dying from the virus. 

Latest research suggests that those from people from black and Asian ethnic groups  are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 as those from white British backgrounds.

The survey shows one in three BAME doctors were unaware of any risk assessment. 

The BMA’s own record of doctors who have sadly lost their lives after contracting Covid-19 shows that more than 90 per cent are from BAME backgrounds.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chairman, said the results were “disturbing”.

“It is extremely troubling that more than a third of BAME doctors still say they are not aware of any risk assessments at their workplace. 

“Equally disturbing is the fact that BAME colleagues are nearly three times more likely to report feeling regularly pressured to treat patients despite not having the right level of protection.

While the NHS has listened to calls by the BMA to direct all providers to risk assess healthcare workers who are most at risk, it is clear there is still much work to be done to properly mitigate against the risks faced by BAME staff.

“It is vital that healthcare workers are properly assessed so that those at high risk can be redeployed to areas where they are less at risk or work remotely, while still providing a vital service to the NHS.

“Ultimately, it is crucial that lessons are learned from this pandemic –  especially with the risk of a second wave – so that we act to ensure that the colour of your skin does not dictate your chance of survival.”

An NHS spokesperson said: “PHE have issued guidance on what PPE to wear in what circumstances, and we have asked employers to ensure that this guidance is accessible and available to all, on top of carrying out specific risk assessments for all of their black and minority ethnic staff and other vulnerable groups. If any colleague is concerned on either of these points they should raise this with their trust and be listened to.”

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