LONDON/BIRMINGHAM: A task force led by British parliamentarians which analysed the disproportionate number of Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) members dying due to Covid-19 in the UK has said that these deaths could have been avoided.
According to the detailed report which includes 10 key points and 35 recommendations, the BAME COVID crisis was an avoidable one. It also found that Black people were four times more likely to die from COVID 19 while those with Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage were 3 times more likely to die as compared to the rest of the population.
The task force was led by Liam Bryne, the labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill and Shadow Defence Procurement Minister, Khalid Mahmood MP and other distinguished members.
The report was prepared after “harrowing and distressing” evidence was shared by the families affected.
The report analysed the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the West Midlands BAME community and concluded that it “is not just an equality, diversity and inclusion issue – it is an urgent medical emergency”.
The report calls for a formal independent public inquiry into the Covid-19 fatalities in the BAME community and further funding and actions to help protect the BAME community ahead of a second wave.
It took three months and multiple meetings to present its 42 page report which includes 35 recommendations and 10 key points.
Liam Byrne MP, who is also Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Metro Mayor, said: “Without doubt, the evidence we heard from families was the most harrowing and distressing that any of us have heard in public life.
“We heard about families holding back from seeking help because they were worried about the care they would receive. We heard about BAME workers on the front-line having to make their own PPE, or having to ‘pull strings’ to visit dying loved ones – and now a significant risk of ongoing trauma and mental health issues, because so many have lost loved ones, without the normal traditions of being able to say goodbye.”
Mr Bryne slammed the British government for not ensuring enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and called for an independent inquiry to learn lessons from this tragedy.
Khalid Mahmood MP, who serves as the shadow secretary for defence procurement said: “The government has failed us. We all have personal tragedies related to this pandemic.”
He warned that the situation wasn’t over and that he would continue to hold the British government accountable on its failures in managing the COVID 19 crisis.
The Task Force was led by the Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Metro Mayor, along with Councillor Paulette Hamilton (Birmingham City Council), Councillor Sandra Samuels (Wolverhampton City Council), Gurinder Singh Josan (NEC The Labour Party), Khalid Mahmood MP, Councillor Aftab Nawaz (Walsall Borough Council), Councillor Mohammed Yaseen Hussain (Sandwell Borough Council) and Taiwo Owatemi MP.
Baroness Doreen Lawrence commended the work of the Task Force. She said: “The findings from this inquiry into Covid-19 related deaths in black, Asian and minority ethnic Covid-19 in the West Midlands is deeply worrying. The testimony of those that have lost loved ones are distressing and lessons need to be learned, so that further people from black, Asian and minority ethnic populations are not put at risk of dying.
“If we are going to effectively address the disproportionate impact of Covid-19, we must eradicate the systemic inequalities that it thrives on. My wider review for Labour will be taking this inquiry’s findings into account.
Marsha de Cordova MP who serves as the Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, said: “This report reinforces what we already know about the structural and racial inequalities which have led to the Covid-19 pandemic hitting Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities across the UK so very hard, no less so in the West Midlands.
“Many Black, Asian and minority ethnic workers have been on the frontline throughout, as key workers, serving selflessly in the fight against coronavirus and to keep essential services running; they are saving lives and keeping our country going.
“I welcome this report and thank all in the team who worked so hard to gather these invaluable insights.”