Many doctors from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) do not feel protected from the risk of Covid-19 infection in their place of work, according to a BMA survey.

The survey was of 7,776 doctors and medical students and took place between 14 and 17 December.

It found that only 28% of respondents felt fully protected with 72% saying they felt only partly or not protected at all. In comparison, for non-BAME respondents that figure was 60%.

Doctors were also asked about their confidence in having sufficient and properly tested and fitted PPE during this current wave. The survey found 16% of respondents said they were not at all confident and just under 25% said they were only partly confident. For white respondents the figures were just under 10% and just under 17% respectively.   

Only 46% said that they have been risk assessed and feel confident that appropriate adjustments have been made, 14% said they have not been assessed and feel that adjustments are needed, and a further 15% said whilst they have been assessed, the adjustments now need updating.

By comparison, the results for non-BAME respondents show that 55% have been risk assessed and only 7% of non-BAME respondents reported that their assessments now needed updating.

Need to bring an end to 'this dreadful state of affairs'

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of BMA Council said: “We should not have a situation in this country where health and social care workers – BAME or otherwise - are feeling unsafe or at risk from death or disease in their workplace – especially in the NHS where that work is to save the lives of others. It is untenable that a year into his pandemic we are seeing results like this.

“These results underpin a horrible truth; we have known from very early on in the pandemic that health and social care workers of BAME background are more likely to become ill and die from this virus. Covid has exacerbated existing racial and cultural inequities within our health service that have contributed to this disparity.

“The BMA has lobbied long and hard for greater protection and effective risk assessment for at-risk BAME workers and we now want the Westminster Government to bring in proper solutions to address the known ethnic disparities and inequalities. We need to see further and better research and investment, focussed on where it is most needed to bring an end to this dreadful state of affairs.”