Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic nursing staff are ‘less protected than other nursing staff’, according to a Royal College of Nursing survey and the College is calling for action to ensure all staff are kept safe during the pandemic.
The RCN surveyed over 5000 nurses and found that BAME nursing staff reported more problems with personal protective equipment (PPE) than their colleagues. Only 43% of BAME respondents reported that they had enough eye protection compared to 66% of white British respondents, and 49% reported being asked to reuse single-use PPE, whereas only 37% of white British colleagues reported this issue.
Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, reinforced the RCN’s call for specific risk assessments for BAME staff, saying ‘all of our nursing staff must have the protection they need, and action must be taken urgently to ensure they are all kept safe’. Overall, almost a quarter of BAME survey respondents (24%) reported that they had no confidence that their employer was doing enough to ensure their safety, in comparison with only 11% of white British respondents.
Given emerging data that BAME groups are disproportionately affected by the virus itself, Dame Kinnair called on Public Health England to provide ‘more answers’ from their ‘investigation into the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on BAME groups’.
This investigation was announced at the beginning of May and aims to analyse patient health records for those with coronavirus as well as health outcomes of NHS staff, to identify different groups and how they are affected by the virus. It has been revealed that 94% of clinicians who have died from the virus were from a BAME background and that cases in men are more likely to be fatal. The government has already been criticised for failing to collect sex disaggregated coronavirus data, in light of these data.