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Labour Peer Calls Government to Publish Steps to Protect BAME People from Coronavirus

Labour Peer Calls Government to Publish Steps to Protect BAME People from Coronavirus

Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Labour Peer and the Party’s race-relations adviser, has broken her silence on the coronavirus outbreak and the disproportionate impact it is having on the UK’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) population. In a joint letter with the Party’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary Marsha de Cordova, Baroness Lawrence asked the government to explain what actions have been taken so far to protect BAME lives. The letter also requested a timescale for future action.

“People’s lives were at risk over delays”

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister and Public Health England, Labour Party Peer and race relations adviser, Baroness Doreen Lawrence called on the government to explain what it has done to protect the UK’s BAME population which has been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. Baroness Lawrence, alongside the Labour Party’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, Marsha de Cordova, said that the delays were putting peoples’ lives at risk.

“We fear this has become another example of the government acting too slowly to deal with this crisis. By failing to take urgent action, it is putting the lives of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people at risk,” Lawrence and De Cordova said in the letter.

Lawrence and De Cordova said that the time to tackle systematic racism, discrimination and injustice in the UK is now and said the government should not only publish what steps it already took but also publish what future steps it will be taking and when.

For his part, the Minister for Equalities, Kemi Badenoch, said that the government was taking the Public Heath England report on the coronavirus-related BAME deaths very seriously and added that collecting better data on ethnicity is “already in train”.

The Public Health England report made numerous recommendations to prevent coronavirus-related BAME deaths

The Public Health England report, which analysed the reasons behind the disproportionate number of BAME deaths due to the coronavirus, was first published earlier in June. At the time, the report omitted concerns relating to how racial discrimination factored into the situation.

The second part of the report, which addressed these concerns, was published last week after being leaked. It confirmed that racial discrimination had played a part in the disproportionate number of BAME deaths.

The report included seven specific recommendations. These include:

  • Mandatory collection of ethnicity data from death certificates;
  • Developing risk assessments for BAME workers;
  • Forming specific health messages to target vulnerable groups such as those with diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure;
  • Funding education and prevention campaigns that work with local BAME and faith communities;
  • Ensuring that coronavirus recovery strategies do not create further inequalities.

It is unclear if any of these recommendations have yet been implemented. However, a number of NHS trusts have taken local action to protect BAME staff from the outbreak.

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