West Midlands roundtable held on coronavirus effect on BAME communities

The Mayor of the West Midlands, public health officials, plus community and faith representatives from around the region come together to discuss the matter.

Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, this week hosted a roundtable with leading community figures as part of Public Health England’s review into whether people of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are more adversely affected by COVID-19.

The discussion, which was led by the Mayor and Professor Kevin Fenton, the review’s lead researcher and the regional director of public health at both PHE and NHS London, included businesswoman Anita Bhalla, as well as 25 other community and faith representatives from around the region.

The group, who met virtually yesterday, discussed a variety of topics including deprivation, data about ethnicity and deaths, the sharing of best practice from other countries, and the effectiveness of Government communication to BAME communities.

Andy Street called the review “important” urging that we get “answers quickly”.

“The West Midlands is diverse in every sense of the word, and we are all fiercely proud of that. It is therefore deeply concerning when we read headlines of diverse communities potentially being more affected by a deadly disease like coronavirus,” he said.

“This is why I felt it was right that I should convene the discussion so our leading community figures had the chance to input into this critical review and help get to the bottom of why BAME groups appear to be being disproportionately affected.”

The review aims to conclude by the end of May, with Public Health England reviewing thousands of existing health records until then in a bid to gather more robust data on cases and health outcomes, focusing on ethnicity, deprivation, age, gender, obesity, and NHS staff.

Lead researcher Professor Kevin Fenton, regional director of public health at PHE and NHS London, explained that having an accurate understanding of how diseases affect different groups of people is a really important issue and a fundamental part of PHE’s role.

“Detailed and careful work is being done so that we can better understand this and explore the possible reasons for any disparities,” he said.

“Increasing evidence and concern around the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on black and minority ethnic groups highlights an important focus of this review.

“PHE is rapidly building robust data and undertaking detailed analysis to develop our understanding of the impact of this novel coronavirus on different groups which can inform actions to mitigate the risks it presents.”

Further information about the review is available directly from the Government here: gov.uk/government/news/review-into-factors-impacting-health-outcomes-from-covid-19.