Fourth BAME GP dies after contracting COVID-19

A south-west London GP who ‘worked tirelessly to care for his patients’ has become the UK's fourth family doctor to die after contracting COVID-19 - and is the fourth black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) GP to lose his life in the pandemic.

Croydon GP Dr Krishan Arora
Croydon GP Dr Krishan Arora

Croydon GP Dr Krishan Arora - a senior partner at the Violet Lane Medical Practice who had worked in the area for 27 years - passed away on 15 April 2020 after testing positive for COVID-19.

South West London CCG confirmed that Dr Arora had followed national guidance and self-isolated at home when he developed symptoms. He was not at work in the time before he died.

The Croydon doctor is believed to be the 50th NHS staff member to die during the pandemic - and joins a growing list of fatalities among BAME healthcare staff.

BAME doctors

The government has launched an inquiry into why people who are BAME appear to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19 - and the BMA has warned that older and retired BAME doctors should avoid working in high-risk roles.

Dr Arora graduated from Cambridge University in 1988 and worked as a frontline GP for the whole of his career. He was one of the directors on the Croydon GP Collaborative and sat on south-west London's NHS England online consultation board.

A notice on his surgery's website said: 'It is with great sadness that the practice has to inform you Dr Krishan Arora died on 15 April. Dr Arora had been at Violet Lane Medical Practice since 1993, he will be sadly missed by his colleagues and his patients. Our condolences go out to his wife and family at this sad time. Please bear with the practice at this sad time.'

GP borough lead for Croydon Dr Agnelo Fernandes said: ‘We are all greatly saddened by the death of Dr Krishan Arora. Krish was extremely well liked and worked tirelessly to care for his patients and improve services for everyone in Croydon.

COVID-19

‘Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Krish’s family, friends and close colleagues at this difficult time. We will miss him.’

Last week GPonline reported that three BAME GPs had been killed by the coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of over 16,000 people in the UK.

76-year-old Essex GP Dr Habib Zaidi became the first UK doctor to die in March after contracting coronavirus, passing away on 25 March. Fellow Essex GP Dr Fayez Ayache and Dagenham, London GP Dr Syed Zishan Haider both lost their lives to the virus this month.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock confirmed last week that there had been 27 deaths of NHS staff from COVID-19, however media reports have put the figure significantly higher.

Government review

Analysis of figures by Sky News last week suggested that 54 frontline healthcare staff had died in England and Wales from COVID-19 - 70% of them from a BAME background. 

Downing Street has confirmed that the review into the impact of COVID-19 on people who are BAME will be led by NHS England and Public Health England.

The BMA, which called on the government to investigate the high level of deaths among healthcare workers from a BAME background last weekend, welcomed the review.

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said steps needed to be taken immediately to protect BAME communities 'until we can develop a detailed understanding of the threats they face'.

GP committee chair at the BMA Dr Richard Vautrey echoed calls for 'urgent action' on the high number of BAME staff deaths. He said: 'With every colleague we hear of who has lost their life to this devastating illness, we are reminded of the risks that committed staff are taking across health and social care services as they tackle the pandemic on the frontline.

'Particularly concerning is the high number of BAME healthcare staff that appear to have been impacted, and it is vital that the government review into this issue provides both answers for families and urgent action on how we mitigate this worrying trend.'

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