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Lockdown saw fewer BAME people attending emergency departments

Overall attendance fell as COVID-19 hit, but more so in certain ethnic groups
Picture shows a woman wearing  a mask in a hospital waiting room

Overall ED attendance fell as COVID-19 hit, but more so in Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, study shows

People from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds were less likely than white people to attend emergency departments during the first COVID-19 lockdown, a study shows.

The findings prompted a nurse involved in the study to call for greater support for patients from BAME backgrounds.

Overall attendances halved after the first lockdown was announced

The study of 41 major emergency departments (EDs) in England found that after the first lockdown was announced, between 11 March and 7 April 2020 overall weekly attendances halved, falling to 93,800 compared with between 181,500 and 209,100 before the lockdown.

Overall ED attendance fell as COVID-19 hit, but more so in Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, study shows

Picture shows a woman wearing  a mask in a hospital waiting room
Picture: iStock

People from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds were less likely than white people to attend emergency departments during the first COVID-19 lockdown, a study shows.

The findings prompted a nurse involved in the study to call for greater support for patients from BAME backgrounds.

Overall attendances halved after the first lockdown was announced

The study of 41 major emergency departments (EDs) in England found that after the first lockdown was announced, between 11 March and 7 April 2020 overall weekly attendances halved, falling to 93,800 compared with between 181,500 and 209,100 before the lockdown.

But there was a wide variation when results were broken down by ethnic group, according to the analysis, published in Lancet Regional Health – Europe.

ED attendance by ethnic group

The study, by the Strategy Unit at Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation, found emergency department attendance fell during this period by:

  • 74.5% in people of Chinese background
  • 75.3% in people of Bangladeshi background
  • 64.9% in people of Indian background
  • 71.8% iin people of Pakistani background
  • 63.5% in people of black African background
  • 47.9% in people of white British background
  • 47% in people of white Irish background
  • 57.1% in those of other white backgrounds

Promoting accurate and credible information about the coronavirus

Strategy Unit healthcare analyst nurse Alexander Lawless said certain ethnic groups may need more information and support to make decisions on accessing care ‘to ensure existing inequalities don’t widen as the virus continues to impact our society’.

‘As a well-trusted and ethnically diverse group in society, nurses have a valuable role in promoting accurate and credible information around the virus to ensure particularly at risk groups aren’t also the people who are less likely to seek care when necessary.’

The study found an overall fall of 69.1% in under-19s attending EDs over the same period. The authors suggested this could be due to a reduction in childhood illnesses and accidents as the lockdown limited opportunities for outdoor play, sporting activities and for the transmission of childhood infections.


Find out more

Impact of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic and Associated Lockdown Measures on Attendances at Emergency Departments in English Hospitals: A Retrospective Database Study (The Lancet Regional Health – Europe)


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