A new risk assessment is today being launched to support people from BAME backgrounds in the NHS and social care in Wales.
Developed by the expert advisory group, which was set up by the First Minister, the two-stage risk assessment will help to reduce people’s risk of contracting coronavirus in the workplace.
The all-Wales COVID-19 Workforce Risk Assessment Tool is the first major piece of work from the advisory group, which was set up to look at the reasons why people from BAME communities are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus. Sadly, many health and social care workers who have died from coronavirus have come from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.
In April, the First Minister launched an urgent investigation to understand the reasons for the higher risk to BAME communities and established the advisory group, co-chaired by Judge Ray Singh and Dr Heather Payne. It included two subgroups – one focusing on the risk assessment by Professor Keshav Singhal – and a second looking at the socio-economic factors which may influence poorer coronavirus outcomes.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Against the backdrop of growing evidence that coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact on people from BAME backgrounds, the advisory group has developed this risk assessment tool, which I hope will help people understand their risk of infection and feel empowered to take action to minimise that risk.
“The all-Wales COVID-19 Workforce Risk Assessment Tool is the result of very swift research and investigation by the advisory group, for which I am very grateful.”
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “The COVID-19 Workforce Risk Assessment Tool has been developed to help people working in the NHS and social care in Wales see if they are at higher risk of developing more serious symptoms if they come into contact with coronavirus.
“We want to help people understand whether they may be at greater risk and to help employers to take the right actions based on someone’s level of risk. People must follow the infection control precautions, such as hand hygiene and use of PPE, which reduce the risk of becoming infected.
“Employers have a duty of care to protect people’s health and safety at work and this includes understanding the extra risk from COVID-19. This duty of care includes ensuring an equitable approach for all staff.”
Prof. Keshav Singhal MBE, FLSW said: “I am very grateful for the swift action taken by the First Minister in setting up the expert advisory group with the mandate to identify and mitigate the higher risk for BAME communities. Our group has acted very swiftly in collating the best evidence to come up with a self-administered risk assessment tool for all the NHS and social care staff within two weeks.
“This risk assessment tool is simple and easy to use by the employee as well as the employer and provides a clear pathway to risk reduction for those found to be high risk due to their ethnicity or a combination of various factors including sex and age.
“The launch and rollout of this tool will help allay anxieties particularly amongst the BAME staff, empower them and keep them safe from Covid-19 and help the employers in fulfilling their legal, moral and ethical obligations towards the safety of their staff.”
Judge Ray Singh CBE said: “Since the BAME Covid-19 Advisory Group met for the first time just over a month ago, it has worked tirelessly to develop this Welsh Risk Assessment Tool to protect against COVID-19 and reassure Black Asian Minority Ethnic NHS and social care frontline workers, who have been disproportionately impacted by this virus. We know the majority of doctors and nurses who have sadly died from COVID-19 have been from BAME background.
“This tool will help stop more workers and families going through the same heartache as those brave workers who sacrificed their lives in protecting us all. We will never forget them and our condolences are with their families.”
The risk assessment subgroup designed a two-stage risk assessment which can be used in across the NHS and social care. It features a simple scoring table be, which could be transferred to other workplaces and sectors.
People at increased risk may, in discussion with their line manager, agree to adjustments to their working arrangements or to work from home.
Notes to editors
- The expert advisory group has met four times.
- Two sub-groups have been set up. The first, co-chaired by Professor Keshav Singhal and Welsh Government Workforce Director Helen Arthur, is considering the risk assessment tool and the second, chaired by Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna, is considering the wider socio-economic factors that might influence poorer coronavirus outcomes for people from BAME communities.
Important note – if you are BAME and pregnant
New information about pregnancy indicates that women from BAME communities are at considerably increased risk throughout their pregnancy. Until lockdown ends they should avoid face-to-face contact with anyone with coronavirus, this means no frontline work where there is sustained community transmission.
Things I can do to help myself
Do the important things to maintain your safety in the workplace
- Observe good hand hygiene, with frequent use of soap and water or alcohol-containing gel.
- Maintaining a distance of 2 metres is an important aspect of the measures we must all take to minimise the risks of the spread of COVID 19. It is something we should aim to do in all aspects of our daily lives.
- Use appropriate personal protective equipment if required for clinical care.
- Observe isolation requirements for known or suspected COVID-19 cases.
- Ensure your infection control training is up to date.
First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford said:
Over the last 8 weeks, we have seen an incredible effort, from all parts of our society, to respond to the unprecedented challenge to our way of life posed by the COVID-19 virus.
As a result, we, like countries across the world are able to think about how we can move out of the lockdown. But, it is essential as we do so, that we recognise this is not a short-term crisis. Until there is a vaccine or effective treatments, we will have to live with the disease in our society and to try to control its spread and mitigate its effects.
The challenges we face are shared with all parts of the United Kingdom. For that reason, we have always strongly supported a 4-nation approach to the lifting of the lockdown.
But this has to respect the responsibilities of each government to determine the speed at which it is safe to move and the balance to be struck between different forms of ‘easement’ – how to prioritise between allowing people to meet up with close family, to go shopping or to the hairdresser, to get back to work or visit the seaside.
With limited ‘headroom’ to ease the current restrictions, choices need to be made and we want to make those choices in consultation with our partners and the people of Wales.
That is why we are publishing this document, not as the final word, but as part of the continuing conversation.
But for the next 2 weeks, at least, I urge everyone in Wales to stick to the advice, Stay Home, Protect our NHS and Save Lives.