Coronavirus is the biggest challenge the UK has faced in decades – and we are not alone. All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this disease. It threatens to take both our way of life and our loved ones from us, and we know that some communities are being disproportionately affected.
That’s why the Government asked Public Health England to carry out a review into the disparities, which has now concluded and been published. That report clearly shows that some people are significantly more vulnerable to Covid-19.
The report was an important first step, and the Government will now take forward further work in this area to form a better understanding and take action to address the issues it raised. There is much more to do to understand the key drivers of these disparities, the relationships between the different risk factors and whatwe can do to close the gap. As I’m sure you can appreciate, it is not always easy to go directly from the analysisto making recommendations. It is important the report from PHE is now widely disseminated and discussed as recommendations for actions are formulated.
I know This Government is absolutely committed to taking action in this area and the Prime Minister has asked the Equalities Minister to undertake the work needed to address these disparities. In the meantime, the NHS Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer have sent a letter to NHS trusts setting out their next steps in the response, and asking NHS services to risk assess staff, include those from BAME backgrounds.