PHE unable to confirm it will meet deadline for COVID-19 risk report

Public Health England (PHE) has been unable to confirm if its report into how factors including ethnicity, gender and obesity affect outcomes in patients and NHS staff infected with COVID-19 will be published by its end of May deadline.

(Photo: stockstudioX/Getty Images)
(Photo: stockstudioX/Getty Images)

The review was launched after growing concern over the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people from black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

When the investigation was announced at the start of this month, the government said that PHE would report back by the end of May. Prime minister Boris Johnson also told the House of Commons last week that the analysis would be reported ‘at the end of the month’.

But GPonline has been told by PHE that it does not have ‘a confirmed publication date at this stage’ just days ahead of the deadline. PHE did, however, say it ‘remain[ed] committed to publishing results’ - adding that it hoped to confirm a date and details soon.

PHE review

The work, which is being led by PHE public health director for London Professor Kevin Fenton, will analyse thousands of patient records for people who have been infected with the virus as well as available data on health outcomes for NHS staff.

The impact of deprivation and age will also be considered as PHE aims to develop a clear picture of 'more robust data on the factors impacting the number of cases and health outcomes for different groups within the population'.

It is hoped that the report will give a better insight into how COVID-19 affects different groups of people and will ‘inform action to mitigate the risks it presents’.

GP practices were told to risk-assess members of the workforce from BAME backgrounds at the end of April. However, the BMA has warned that GP practices have not received sufficient practical advice on protecting at-risk staff in the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving staff facing a 'postcode lottery' as approaches vary regionally.

BAME risk

Other doctors' groups have also called for faster action to protect BAME staff against the risks of COVID-19.

Research published by University College London earlier this month found that people from BAME groups are two to three times more likely to die from coronavirus compared with the general population.

Analysis by the Guardian shows that six in 10 UK health workers who have died as a result of  COVID-19 are from BAME communities, accounting for 122 deaths. A total of 11 GPs, 10 of whom are from BAME backgrounds, have sadly lost their lives to coronavirus.

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