Unite statement on the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on NHS BAME staff

Unite national officer for health Jackie Williams said: “Unite strongly supports that a risk assessment strategy is introduced urgently for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff in the NHS in relation to coronavirus.

“We know that BAME staff have suffered a disproportionate number of cases of death and illness due to Covid-19 and welcome plans by NHS management  that BAME personnel should be ‘risk-assessed’ and reassigned to duties that leave them at lesser risk of contracting coronavirus.

“However, we are very concerned that BAME staff may not feel confident in raising their concerns about coronavirus with their managers, compared with other groups.

“If NHS staff – and this goes for all health workers – are risking their lives during this pandemic, they need to feel confident that robust systems are in place to hear and then act on their concerns.

 “What BAME staff are facing with this heightened risk from coronavirus demonstrates, yet again, the need for sufficient amounts of PPE to be provided across the health and social care system, which ministers have, so far, spectacularly failed to achieve.

“Testing in the UK is still way behind the curve of what is needed and compares poorly with countries, such as Germany and South Korea. We would urge tests for BAME staff are given priority as testing across the NHS is rolled out.”

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