Covid-19: BAME review – “did not survive contact with Matt Hancock’s office”

5th June 2020 / United Kingdom
Covid-19: BAME review - "did not survive contact with Matt Hancock’s office"

By TruePublica: The government removed a key section from Public Health England’s review of the relative risk of covid-19 to specific groups. The report found a crucial piece of information had been deliberately left out by Matt Hancock’s office because “of concerns it would stoke racial tension.”

 

The report was published on Tuesday, with very little pre-publicity, following claims government was delaying it because of concerns it would stoke racial tension. One source with knowledge of the review said the section “did not survive contact with Matt Hancock’s office” over the weekend.

Senior NHS figures who had been closely involved with the review were unaware of the report’s impending publication or that the chapter containing responses from the stakeholder and community engagement consultation process had been removed.

The Health Service Journal reports that the review exposed was that the virus poses a greater risk to those who are older, male and overweight. The risk is also described as “disproportionate” for those with Asian, Caribbean and black ethnicities. However, it makes no attempt to explain why the risk to BAME groups should be higher.

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An earlier draft of the review which was circulated within government last week contained a section which included responses from the 1,000-plus organisations and individuals who supplied evidence to the review. Many of these suggested that discrimination and poorer life chances were playing a part in the increased risk of covid-19 to those with BAME backgrounds.

A tweet from BAME activist Dr Addy Adelaine on Wednesday morning describing the review as having been ”whitewashed” was later shared by Yvonne Coghill, director of the NHS England Workforce Race Equality Standard programme.

Reacting to the review, health secretary Matt Hancock said he understood why many were “understandably angry about injustices” and that he felt a “deep responsibility because this pandemic has exposed huge disparities in the health of our nation”.

Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing, Mr Hancock said “much more work” needed to be done to understand “what’s driving these disparities”, before adding: “We are absolutely determined to get to the bottom of this and find ways of closing this gap.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care denied a chapter had been removed from the report but did not repond when asked if material detailing responses from organisations had been removed.

 

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