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30 April 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Ethnic minority NHS staff could be moved off frontline to reduce Covid-19 risk

By Samuel Horti

NHS workers from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds could be reassigned to roles away from frontline healthcare following advice to hospital bosses that ethnic minority staff should be “risk-assessed”.

“Emerging UK and international data suggest that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are also being disproportionately affected by Covid-19,” NHS Improvement’s chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard said in a letter to hospital trusts, mental health care providers, ambulance services and community-based providers.

“In advance of [Public Health England’s] report and guidance [on BAME staff], on a precautionary basis we recommend employers should risk-assess staff at potentially greater risk and make appropriate arrangements accordingly,” Pritchard said.

The letter did not specify what these arrangements would include, but the Guardian reports that staff could be moved off the frontline to services where they are at lower risk of coronavirus infection. 

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Multiple analyses have shown that people from ethnic minority backgrounds, including NHS staff, are dying in disproportionate numbers from Covid-19 compared to white people. The exact reason is unknown.