Labour demands date for publication of Covid-19 BAME review

Marsha de Cordova has called on the government to announce a date this week for the publication of the delayed review into the impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities.

The Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities made the demand today following the failure of Public Health England to publish its findings by the end of May as originally promised.

De Cordova urged that the Health Secretary Matt Hancock “announce a date this week for its publication” and said that the “review and action taken based on its findings could save lives”.

Commenting on the investigation, she said: “The government has already delayed the report’s release from the end of May. BAME communities across the country need reassurance that this issue is being taken seriously, and not being kicked into the long grass.

“It is unacceptable to delay the release of a report into the unequal suffering of the BAME community on the basis of global events that relate to the suffering of black communities around the world.”

The GMB trade union has declared that any delay “heightens distrust”, with the national secretary saying: “We can’t afford this at a time when stark evidence shows the pandemic disproportionately impacts  BAME workers.

“People are dying and ministers have been too slow to protect lives. That’s why GMB has joined the call for an independent public inquiry on the government’s response to coronavirus and its impact on BAME lives.”

The government launched the investigation in April, following reports of disproportionate numbers of coronavirus-related deaths among BAME communities. Labour launched its own review shortly afterwards.

Sky News reported on Monday evening that the delay was due to the report being in “close proximity to the current situation in America” and a “bad combination” if published amid protests over the killing of George Floyd in the US.

The Department of Health and Social Care has denied that the delay in the report’s release was linked to events in the US. A spokesperson said: “It is not true to say this has been delayed due to global events.”

Analysis of NHS data by University College London last month found that BAME people are significantly more likely to die from coronavirus than the general UK population.

The research found that the risk of death for black African groups was 3.24 times higher; Pakistani was 3.29 times higher; Bangladeshi was 2.41 times higher; black Caribbean was 2.21 times higher; and Indian was 1.7 times higher.

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