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Unanimous backing for council motion on COVID-19 risk for BAME groups

July 18, 2020 9:00 AM
Originally published by Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats

Cllr Christine McHughBedford Borough Councillors across all parties gave unanimous support last night to a motion in response to national data showing a higher risk of infection and of death from COVID-19 for people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups.

The motion, proposed by Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor McHugh and seconded by Labour's Councillor Abu Sultan, at this week's virtual Full Council meeting calls on the government to mandate ethnicity data collection for COVID-19 and other health and care data collection systems. This includes the collection of ethnicity data at death certification (with an opt-out for individuals who do not wish to specify).

There is currently no local data on the ethnicity of COVID-19 cases or related deaths, but national data is clear that BAME groups are at higher risk. People of Bangladeshi ethnicity are most at risk, with around twice the risk of death than people of white British ethnicity. Meanwhile people of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other Black ethnicity have between 10% and 50% higher risk of death.

It also calls on NHS and Public Health England to ensure that data is shared and made available to local health and care partners, including councils, to inform actions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities.

Councillor McHugh said: "I'm glad the Council was able to come together to back this important motion. We are doing all we can to drive down the local infection rate, to protect residents. That means addressing all the risk factors we can, and being a member of a BAME community has emerged as a significant risk factor. It is a fact that some risk factors for contracting and transmitting the virus are more common for certain groups. Those factors mean that even if people take the same care as others they can be at a higher risk of infection and illness. So we also need to be clear that increased risk should absolutely not mean increased blame for particular groups or individuals, and instead focus on tackling those risk factors."

Reasons for the greater risk for members of BAME groups are thought to include factors such as underlying conditions, possible biological factors, and structural factors such as being in a frontline roles - for which read key worker jobs, language barriers, overcrowding and deprivation.

You can read the motion in full and watch a video recording of last night's Full Council meeting on Bedford Borough Council's website at https://www.councillorsupport.bedford.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=124&MId=5144&Ver=4