Plea For Merton To Take Part In National Review Of BAME Coronavirus Deaths

Meeting also hears nearly a third of Merton deaths have been in care homes

A plea has been made for Merton Council to take part in a national review into the “extremely concerning” deaths of black and minority ethnic (BAME) residents across the country.


Cabinet members raised their concerns about the disproportionate toll of coronavirus on minority communities at a virtual meeting last night (Tuesday, April 28).


Councillor Edith Macauley, cabinet member for community safety, said: “We’ve seen during the past few weeks that despite only 14% of people in England and Wales being from BAME backgrounds and 45% of NHS doctors and 24% of nurses, it has been extremely concerning to see the disproportionate toll that Covid-19 is having on BAME communities. We need to find out what the reasons behind this are.”


She asked for confirmation that the council would be feeding into a national review into and whether any lessons have been learnt.


Her concerns were echoed by councillor Laxmi Attawar who said: “If anything this pandemic has highlighted, it is the inequality in our society which is reflected here in Merton as well. which disproportionately affected the BAME community.


“This is particularly because the BAME community tend to be in low paid jobs and living in multi-generational households.


“As the full impact on the minority community is becoming clearer I look forward to hearing from officers and working with partners to understand ways that we can mitigate against this in future years.”


But the council’s director for community and housing, Hannah Doody, said that at this time Merton does not have a breakdown of deaths by ethnicity.


At the beginning of the meeting it was confirmed that as of April 10 a total of 64 Merton residents had died from coronavirus, 20 of whom were in care homes.


Ms Doody added: “Merton will be feeding to any review undertaken but we don’t have any official stats published at the moment.


“We will work with our organisations and the BAME community to understand what impact the deaths of Covid-19 have had on Merton residents.”


It is believed 44% of medical staff are from ethnic minority backgrounds, compared to 14% of the overall population recorded at the last census.


Research by Sky News revealed last week that BAME medics made up 72% of all NHS and carer coronavirus deaths.


The Government has said the NHS and Public Health England will carry out an investigation into the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on the BAME communities.


Among the general population 17% of people who died from coronavirus were from black, Asian or mixed backgrounds as of Tuesday, April 28.

By Tara O'Connor, Local Demcracy Reporter


April 29, 2020