The government is under pressure to “stop the excuses” and publish the findings of an inquiry into the impact of coronavirus on ethnic minorities.
Public Health England (PHE) was asked in early May to investigate how factors such as ethnicity, deprivation, age and gender affected people’s vulnerability to the virus.
The report was due to be released by the end of last month. PHE yesterday said the report would be released “shortly” but would not give a date.
Last night Sky News cited “government sources” suggesting the report had been held back due to the “close proximity to the current situation in America”.
HuffPost UK understands that health ministers only received the document on Monday and there is an expectation at the department that it will be published this week, contrary to briefings to Sky News from No.10 sources.
Analysis by University College London found people from England’s Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are two-to-three times more likely to die from Covd-19 than the general population.
Keir Starmer said this morning ministers must “stop the excuses” publish the review.
The Labour leader tweeted: “BAME communities have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. We need the findings of this review published and action taken now.”
Rehana Azam, the national secretary of the GMB union which represents many NHS staff, said any delay to the report ” heightens distrust”.
“We can’t afford this at a time when stark evidence shows the pandemic disproportionately impacts BAME workers,” she said.
“People are dying and ministers have been too slow to protect lives.”
Donna Kinnair, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “The Public Health England review must be published as a matter of urgency.
“Every day we go without knowing why BAME health and care staff are disproportionately affected by Covid-19 is another day these workers are needlessly put at extra risk.
“Our own data shows us that 43% of BAME nursing staff feel they cannot access proper eye and face protection. UK governments must move quickly to develop clear, cross-governmental strategy and costed action plans to tackle racial disparities across society.”
Last Wednesday England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, said PHE had assured him the report was “on schedule”.
“I regard this as very pressing and very important,” he told HuffPost UK at the Downing Street press conference. “I believe the report is going to be very comprehensive when it comes out.”