Revealed: the extent of the mortality risk BAME nurses face from coronavirus

PHE report lays bare the statistics behind COVID-19 deaths of nursing and other healthcare staff

Picture: SPL

More than 10,000 cases of COVID-19 have been identified in nurses, midwives, and nursing associates, and a disproportionate number of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) NHS staff have died, an investigation found.

A report into disparities in risks and outcomes by Public Health England revealed people from BAME backgrounds were more likely to die from COVID-19, while diagnosis rates for coronavirus were highest in black communities.

BAME healthcare and COVID-19 mortality

Analysis of the deaths of 119 NHS staff revealed BAME staff were over-represented.

And people with Bangladeshi heritage were around twice as likely to die as white British people. Those with Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and other black heritage faced between 10 and 50% higher risk of death than white British people.

Data on nurses with coronavirus

Cases investigated related to individuals who had been tested in hospital with a medical need or as a key worker.

  • Of the 10,841 cases of COVID-19 among nurses, midwives and nursing associates, which represents 1.9% of the Nursing and Midwifery Council register, 1,456 were in men
  • The median age of cases was 45.5 and 45.1 for males and females, respectively
  • Among workers in occupations more likely to be exposed to disease, such as healthcare, three in four were women and one in five were from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups

Source: COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes


Employers must risk-assess and protect health staff at greater COVID-19 risk

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said the report was evidence employers must act quickly to protect BAME staff.

She said: ‘This includes providing effective personal protective equipment, fit-testing, robust and targeted risk assessments, and redeployment of staff where appropriate.

‘No nurse should be placed at risk of contracting COVID-19 in the course of delivering care.’

Timing of the PHE report’s release

The timing of the report's publication – due at end of May – had been subject to speculation, with the RCN and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer calling for its immediate release this week. 

The government had denied it was delaying publication due to tensions over race relations in the US following the death of George Floyd.

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Read the report

COVID-19: review of disparities in risks and outcomes

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