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GPs go forth

GP practices asked to 'risk assess' black and ethnic minority staff

GP practices should risk assess their staff who are from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds in light of emerging evidence they may be at higher risk from Covid-19, NHS England has said.

It said while further guidance will follow an ongoing investigation into a 'disproportionate' effect on BAME people, practices should 'make appropriate arrangements' to protect their BAME staff on a 'precautionary basis'.

Adjustments include 'working remotely or in a lower-risk area', a letter sent to GP practices today from NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said.

The letter said: 'Emerging UK and international data suggest that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are being disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Public Health England has been asked by DHSC to investigate this.

'In advance of their report and guidance, on a precautionary basis we recommend employers should risk-assess staff at potentially greater risk and make appropriate arrangements accordingly.'

Practices and other NHS organisations should also 'continue to assess' and make adjustments for all staff who may be at increased risk, including older colleagues, pregnant women, returnees and those with underlying health conditions, NHS England added.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GP in North London, said: 'NHS England has heeded the BMA’s call to direct all NHS providers to risk assess healthcare workers and in particular BAME staff who are at greatest risk of serious infection and even death.

'However, the letter makes no mention of how providers should assess risk, and the BMA has already called on NHS England to develop a national  risk assessment framework so that this can be done with objectivity and consistency across the NHS.

'This would take into account ethnicity, age, sex, and other medical conditions, as well as nature of work, risk of exposure and other factors. Those at highest risk should be protected from working in infectious areas and redeployed to non-Covid care or work remotely.'

Yesterday it was revealed that a Lincolnshire hospital trust has become the second to recognise its BAME workforce as ‘vulnerable and at-risk’.

It comes as six out of the seven GPs so far known to have died with coronavirus (Covid-19) are from BAME backgrounds.

Mr Stevens letter set out the plans for the 'second phase' of the NHS response to the coronavirus pandemic, which would include GPs taking an enhanced role in ensuring the health of care home residents; undertaking as much routine and preventative work as is safe; and restore urgent referrals to pre-pandemic levels.

Readers' comments (30)

  • doctordog.

    Sounds a little like racial profiling, and likely to be full of pitfalls.

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  • How does this impact non BAME, non pregnant GPs without chronic illness. With shielding, social distancing and self isolation this will leave a small number of GPs doing all the face to face work and exposed in turn to increased risk. Soon it will be no males over 60 which will leave 30-60 year old GPs seeing all the patients. Hang on aren’t men at increased risk too? So we have non pregnant often part time female GPs left.

    There is going to be some risk unfortunately either due to demographics/co-morbidities but also through exposing a small number of GPs to all the F2F contacts. Has anyone risk assessed this?

    Having said all that it seems sensible to protect older and often male BAME clinical staff especially if they have any comirbidities as this group does seem to be at particular risk. Who knows though whether they contracted covid19 at work or from other contact.

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  • 98% of our 60 staff are BAME.

    The CCG has given us 1 Laptop.

    How do we implement the results of our risk rating??

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  • Do not wait for a 'risk assessment'...get off the front line where you can, put yourself first for a change whatever you deem is your 'category'/risk/family situation and dictate your working and F-F risk. For example, these Hot Hubs are a disgrace and poorly thought out and a gimmick plaster on a gaping wound. I wonder if Pulse can get FOI data on the BAME make up of the profession via the GMC? Then the BAME make-up of managers. That will read for dire reading.

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  • All for it. 100%. And as an at risk male over 60 with respiratory condition, I expect the same. Where is the request for my risk assessment? Am I being discriminated against?

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  • in India, Pakistan, Nigeria etc I understand the policy is to cannon fodder the WASP doctors to the front line while ensuring they are back of the queue for training, PPE and safeguarding. When they breathe a word of dissent about the ensuing carnage one should ask the Q - "I wonder who protects the WASP Drs in the UK?"
    Dr Spock, instead of polishing the brass buttons on your blazer while waiting for the days of empire to return why not read Reni Eddo-Lodge "Why I'm No Longer Talking About Race"

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  • Totally agree with Back from the dark side ,as a female nearing 50,from a BAME but with no underlying conditions that I know of,I dont especially feel more immune to this disease from say my over 70 Male colleague..but agree they should have less contact. On a more important note,arent these assessments a bit of a joke when as GPs we are being expected to see patients without a gown or eye protection?Is everyone happy and feeling safe doing this,very soon in patients homes ?Arent we all clearly at risk there?All the GPs who died had the same basic PPE right, doesn't it follow that they died as a result of poor protection in getting it in the first place ?And then being worse off if they were BAME and male...

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  • Bornjovial

    There is an issue here which needs to be addressed in mature way given the fact there are many uncertainties and unknowns about the finding that BAME doctors are having disproportionately more deaths. Throwing away words and accusations are unhelpful especially at this juncture.
    Each practice will have to discuss how it affects them and take steps to mitigate the risk (NOT eliminate the risk). Can elderly BAME doctors not be posted to the HOT Hubs-their practices maybe pay for the volunteers from other practices to do the shift? I am just making a suggestion.

    What happens where all doctors at a surgery are BAME? Do they hand over their contract back to NHS?
    COI- Immigrant BAME doctor

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