Covid vaccine: Should BAME groups be prioritised? – BBC Newsnight

[Music] these are some of the healthcare professionals who have paid the ultimate price while doing their jobs during the pandemic in the course of the crisis we have learned the coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on people from black asian and minority ethnic communities recent public health england data shows that more than 10 months into the pandemic non-white groups still have a higher age adjusted mortality rate than their white counterparts many health care workers fighting the virus on the front line are part of these minority ethnic communities is a radiologist of indian descent she lives in lancaster with her husband a surgeon and her son a medical student she and her husband fell sick with kovid during the first wave however it very nearly cost sangeeta her life i went to emergency department late march around 26th or 27th that time and came back home on 17th of july so the time period i don't remember i'm one of the most fortunate person to survive this disease after going through a very severe form of it it was my family who suffered more than me at that time they were called at least three times to say goodbye to me when i was in ventilator they have to go through discussions of do not resuscitate kind of uh situation it was like you know being pulled back from the jaws of death actually that's what it was having lost her voice and the ability to walk during her ordeal sangeeta says her nhs trust has been exemplary and supportive to both her and her family but not all minority ethnic healthcare workers have had the same positive experience as sangeeta the british medical association has expressed particular concern about the way vaccines are being rolled out for doctors working in hospitals our surveys have been asking doctors whether they've received um the first dose of the vaccine or the second dose and what we're finding is that significant numbers of doctors have now received their first dose when we asked whether there was any increase in uptake uh based upon high risk factor or uh bame status there's been no difference shown between those uh baby doctors who received the vaccine uh and and and their um white counterparts we feel that what we should have been seeing is a very clear prioritization of those who are at highest risk uh getting the vaccine first so that they could be protected to carry on working on the front line the government has been guided by the independent advisory group the joint committee on vaccination and immunization when deciding who is prioritized in the vaccine rollout frontline health and social care workers are in the second priority group the jcvi has also advised the vaccines can be deployed locally with regard to mitigating health inequalities within each priority group such as the height and risk faced by people from minority ethnic backgrounds i spoke to one minority ethnic medic who works daily on a coronavirus ward in london he agreed to speak to us on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from his trust we are calling him raj his experience illustrates some of the bma's concerns in my organization i have not been made aware of any kind of prioritizing so when it comes to the vaccine i feel no one has any priority within the workforce crucially raj has underlying health conditions he told me that when it comes to his hospital assessing his height and risk during the pandemic the process has been lacking have they made any attempt to find out about your health these risk assessment have not been done the way they had been intended to so in reality i can't speak for the whole organization but in my experience i have completed the form only with the information part there is supposed to be a meeting with the manager or someone from the employer's behalf these meetings have not been taking place members have completed the forms with their personal details and submitted to their manager and the matter ended at that point which has no significance whatsoever it should not be a box ticking exercise in recent weeks newsnight has been speaking to a range of ethnic minority healthcare professionals across england they share the same concerns as raj about risk assessments amounting to what he calls a box ticking exercise as does annel jine who is on the british medical association's equality and inclusion advisory group i mean what i see is quite a bit of fatigue in the system and we are hearing from our members that a lot of time risk assessment treatment exercise you know our ask is that meticulous risk assessment should be undertaken and then on the basis of that mitigation should be agreed with the health and social care worker with our members you know if risk assessments are undertaken but mitigation is not agreed or supported that doesn't work very well with the nhs stretched to the seams during the recent wave characterized by a newer potentially more deadly variant losing minority ethnic staff to covet can only make the fight against coronavirus harder after all a fifth of our nhs workers are from black asian and minority ethnic backgrounds but how easy is it to keep minority groups on the front line when we still don't know precisely why they have been so badly affected by this virus yasminarican well we put the bma's concerns relating to vaccination and risk assessment to nhs england a spokesperson says we want all staff to be offered and then to accept covert vaccination and staff uptake is going well the nhs set out clear guidelines to all local trusts in april and they must carry out risk assessments following nhs employers guidelines for bame staff and other at-risk groups and this happened the department of health and social care told us that nhs organizations are working tirelessly to protect all healthcare staff and particularly those vital colleagues from particular communities who've been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic

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