Findings from the British Medical Association’s (BMA’s) COVID-19 tracker survey highlight notable differences in doctors’ experiences of workplace COVID-19 risk assessments and access to PPE, according to ethnic background.
The survey finds that while 91 per cent of white doctors undergoing a COVID-19 risk assessment by their employers reported being satisfied with the process, this figure fell to just 80 per cent among Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) staff.
When asked whether they felt pressured into seeing patients without PPE in AGP (aerosol-generating procedure) areas, 3 per cent of white doctors said they often were and 17 per cent said they sometimes were. In contrast 10 per cent of BAME doctors often felt pressured, and 31 per cent sometimes pressured.
BAME doctors were found in the survey to be more likely to: experience shortages of FFP3 masks in AGP areas and fail first-time fit testing, and be more fearful about speaking out.
While acknowledging that all frontline doctors face risks in the fight against COVID-19, the BMA has also noted the increased susceptibility faced by those from particular groups including BAME backgrounds.
Throughout the pandemic, the BMA has called for a range of actions to better protect at-risk frontline medical staff, including an investigation into the disproportionate impact the virus has had on BAME healthcare workers, something that is now being reviewed by Public Health England.
The Association also wrote to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens in April urging the creation of a national profiling framework to identify and protect staff likely to be at greater risk, with a framework being published on 12 May.
NHS Employers has since updated its existing guidance including details on how to enhance assessments to take account of key factors that might increase vulnerability to COVID-19, such as race and ethnicity.