Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on ethnic inequalities in health and social care – Have your say!

Introducing a King’s College London study examining inequalities experienced by people from racial and ethnic minority groups working in health and social care during COVID-19. (570 words)

Prof Stephani Hatch

Leading the study: Stephani Hatch, Professor of Sociology and Epidemiology in the Department of Psychological Medicine, King’s College London

We have launched a study to help improve working conditions and to tackle the inequalities experienced by people from racial and ethnic minority groups working in health and social care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Based at King’s College London, we are working in partnership with NHS England Workforce Race Equality Standard, NHS Confederation and the Royal College of Nursing. The study findings will be used to develop education and training materials (e.g. Virtual Reality training) available nationally to all staff, specifically to better support and improve the workplace experiences of NHS and social care staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.

COVID-19 pandemic

The pandemic has shone a light on existing inequalities that have a great impact on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. These communities are approximately 14% of the population in England and Wales, yet they have had greater exposure to the virus and are more likely to have poorer outcomes, including severe health complications and death. We have also seen that higher numbers of racial and ethnic minority health and social care workers have died from COVID-19. Despite making up 21% of the NHS workforce, 63% of those who died from COVID-19 were from racial and ethnic minority groups. What is less often known and discussed is that health and social care staff from racial and ethnic minority groups experience greater levels of workplace harassment and discrimination compared to other staff and these experiences have been compounded by the pandemic. This can have long-lasting effects on their health, wellbeing, and their ability to do their job.

Impact on Black, Asian and minority ethnic frontline workers

Racism and discrimination can come from patients and families, but also from colleagues and managers. We know that NHS staff from racial and ethnic minority groups have poorer working conditions including lower pay and less control in decision making, with many feeling powerless to lodge complaints about working conditions. Our project lead, Professor Stephani Hatch says:

“These adversities place racial and ethnic minority staff in vulnerable positions as they work in roles that involve greater exposure to COVID-19 wards; and have greater workplace stresses, stigma, fear and uncertainty around COVID-19 risks for themselves and their families. We need staff from racial and ethnic minority groups to speak out about how inequalities are being produced in the context of COVID-19 and, if they continue, following the pandemic. Importantly, we want to work with these staff to amplify their voices and try to mitigate current and future impacts by developing effective and evidence-based approaches that are based on an in-depth understanding of real-life experiences”

There are several ways to get involved in phase two of the TIDES study and have your say.

Action through research

The team, in collaboration with Black Thrive, Maudsley Learning and Challenge Consultancy, will develop an in-depth understanding of inequalities in health and social care settings in the context of COVID-19 and its direct impact on staff from racial and ethnic minority groups.

It will build on work already underway as part of the Tackling Inequalities and Discrimination Experiences (TIDES) study funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19.

More information on TIDES can be found on the project website, or please feel free to contact the team by email, tides@kcl.ac.uk.

On Twitter: @tides_study | @HatchStephani

 

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