Sky
Health workers from ethnic minority groups who are dealing with the coronavirus crisis should be removed from high-risk areas, the Royal College of Surgeons has said.

It comes as Sky News analysis suggested 60% of all NHS workers who have died with COVID-19 are members of ethnic minority groups.

Professor Neil Mortensen, president-elect of the Royal College of Surgeons, said he supported calls for BAME colleagues to be protected but that such a move would put huge pressure on other staff.

“They are a particularly at-risk group,” he told Sky News’ Kay Burley@Breakfast.

“Like other at-risk groups, I think they need to not be put in positions where they’re not quite so at risk…

“We don’t really quite no why yet, but it’s important they are removed from – if you like – from danger.”

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Professor Mortensen said the BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) community is “such an important part of our workforce”.

NHS England has already recommended that health trusts assess BAME workers as “at potentially greater risk” from coronavirus.

It has advised all trusts them to carry out risk assessments for workers from those backgrounds.

Official guidance says UK and international data indicates people from BAME backgrounds are being “disproportionately affected by COVID-19”.

Public Health England has been asked by the Department for Health and Social Care to investigate.

Scientists have already highlighted factors including:

  • Increased underlying health conditions among BAME people, such as heart conditions, type 2 diabetes and respiratory issues
  • BAME people are more likely to work in essential roles such as bus drivers, taxi drivers, shop keepers and in health and social care
  • BAME families are more likely to live in multi-generational, overcrowded homes than white counterparts

With focus now moving to how current restrictions might be lifted, Professor Neil Mortensen also told Sky News that easing the lockdown now would put an “intolerable pressure” on NHS workers.

He said it shouldn’t be lifted until measures are in place to deal with a possible second surge.

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