The Liberal Democrats are calling for new measures to improve monitoring of coronavirus in BAME communities and to ensure scrutiny of the Government's recently announced review of the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on BAME groups.
Citing the need for "swift and decisive action" which "will save lives" Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, the first MP of Palestinian descent, and Munira Wilson, the party's Health spokesperson, are calling for immediate steps to tackle this pressing issue. In a letter to the Health Secretary and Equalities Minister they call for the Government to:
- Introduce questions about ethnicity to the NHS coronavirus status tracker.
- Step up delivery of PPE for NHS and social care staff, a significant proportion of whom are BAME.
- Commit to cross party scrutiny of the review process, including monitoring of Government action on recommendations arising from the review.
Munira Wilson, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care said:
"The data from UK hospitals showing that BAME groups are disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 is alarming. Yet we don't have a complete picture to confirm the extent of these trends in the UK as some key data simply isn't being collected.
"That is why we're asking the Government to add a question on ethnicity to the official NHS coronavirus survey. This data will be vital in informing our response to and management of this virus, making sure that all communities get the support they need.
"In addition, given that a significant percentage of frontline NHS and social care staff are from BAME groups, the need for adequate PPE could not be more urgent. The Government must rapidly address the unacceptable, long-running issues of shortages of this lifesaving kit.
"The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented threat, leaving the most vulnerable in society at risk. We must ensure that BAME communities are not left behind by the Government’s response to this crisis."
Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said:
"Statistics confirming the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities are shocking and warrant close and urgent analysis.
"Launching a review to better understand the impact of Covid on these groups is a first step, but the Government must be absolute in their commitment to acting on enacting any recommendations that result from the review process.
"We must also ensure that there is full scrutiny of this process by MPs right across the political spectrum. That is why we are calling for a cross-party taskforce to oversee the review process and monitor the roll out of measures required to tackle this issue."