Cllr Gavin Callaghan and Cllr Aidan McGurran have written to Dr Mike Gogarty, Director of Public Health for Essex, requesting an enquiry into the impact the virus has had on BAME communities in Basildon borough and the effectiveness of local responses - saying Basildon Council will fully support this in any way it can.

While acknowledging that "this virus does not discriminate in terms of whom it infects," Cllr Callaghan nevertheless said that, "national statistics show that certain ethnic groups (black people; people of Bangladeshi/Pakistani heritage) are almost twice as likely as people of white ethnicity to die after contracting Covid-19. This is a shocking statistic, and one that points to a failure to look after vast swathes of the communities we serve."

Cllr Callaghan said local insight is needed, and that residents have expressed their concern about the disproportionate impact Covid-19 has had on certain communities.

"I am therefore writing to request that, in your capacity as the Director of Public Health for Essex, you conduct an enquiry into the impact the virus has had on BAME communities in our locale.

"I would suggest that the enquiry should not only consider the impact from a statistical point of view, but should also seek to understand whether the interventions put in place from a public health perspective were sufficient to mitigate the disproportionate impact Covid-19 has on these communities, as well as understand the effectiveness initiatives that were used to provide specific information and advice to our BAME residents.

"I would ask that this enquiry does consider these impacts at the local level - i.e. districts and boroughs - and not just countywide... I can assure you that Basildon Council will support this effort in any way it can."

Read the full letter below:

Dear Mike,

I hope you are well in what I appreciate will be an incredibly busy time for you and your teams.

The coronavirus pandemic has clearly had a tremendous impact on society, and resulted in a terrible toll of lives lost. We have seen from the range of people who have become ill with the virus - most notably, of course, the Prime Minister - that this virus does not discriminate in terms of whom it infects.

However, it is also becoming clear that there are significant differences in survival rates for victims of the virus, especially in relation to the ethnicity of those who have contracted it.

National statistics show that certain ethnic groups (black people; people of Bangladeshi/Pakistani heritage) are almost twice as likely as people of white ethnicity to die after contracting covid-19. This is a shocking statistic, and one that points to a failure to look after vast swathes of the communities we serve.

I am aware that Public Health England have already announced a review into factors impacting health outcomes from covid-19, and that this work will include a focus on how the virus has affected those people from BAME communities who have contracted it. This work is to be commended, and I hope the end-of-May deadline that has been publicised will be met.

However, I am writing because I do not believe the work done at a national level will give us the insight we all need to understand the impact this virus has had on local BAME communities. Residents have expressed their concern to me about the disproportionate impact covid-19 has had on certain communities, and they understandably feel alarmed and, in some cases, frightened about the impact this virus could have on them.

I am therefore writing to request that, in your capacity as the Director of Public Health for Essex, you conduct an enquiry into the impact the virus has had on BAME communities in our locale.

I would suggest that the enquiry should not only consider the impact from a statistical point of view, but should also seek to understand whether the interventions put in place from a public health perspective were sufficient to mitigate the disproportionate impact covid-19 has on these communities, as well as understand the effectiveness initiatives that were used to provide specific information and advice to our BAME residents. I would ask that this enquiry does considers these impacts at the local level - i.e. districts and boroughs - and not just countywide.

I appreciate that this may be a significant undertaking, but I believe it is essential to ensure that, as a sector, we are fulfilling our responsibilities to all parts of our community, and I can assure you that Basildon Council will support this effort in any way it can.

Kind Regards,

Cllr Gavin Callaghan                                  Cllr Aidan McGurran

Leader of Basildon Council                   Chair of External Affairs, Partnerships and Liaison Committee

ENDS


Published on Tuesday 28 May 2020