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BAME staff have less access to PPE, survey finds



Black, Asian and minority ethnic nursing staff struggle more than their white counterparts to access personal protective equipment, a Royal College of Nursing survey has revealed.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic nursing staff struggle more than their white counterparts to access personal protective equipment, a Royal College of Nursing survey has revealed.

Forty-three per cent of BAME nursing staff working in high-risk environments – such as intensive care – said they had enough eye and face protection, in stark contrast to 66% of white British staff, from 5,023 respondents overall. 

Across all settings, BAME nursing staff are less satisfied with protection at work, with nearly a quarter (24%) saying they had no confidence their employer is doing enough to protect them from Covid-19, compared to just 11% of white British respondents.  

RCN chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘It is simply unacceptable that we are in a situation where BAME nursing staff are less protected than other nursing staff.’

Over a third of overall respondents felt pressure to care for suspected or confirmed Covid-19 without adequate protection but 56% of BAME staff said the same. 

The RCN has repeated calls for specific risk assessments for BAME nursing staff amid concerns they are at greater risk from Covid-19.

Dame Donna continued: ‘All of our nursing staff must have the protection they need, and action must be taken urgently to ensure they are all kept safe. 

‘We look forward to getting more answers from Public Health England’s investigation into the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on BAME groups.’

Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive Andrea Sutcliff said: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed deep seated inequalities for ethnic minority nursing and midwifery professionals.

‘Their experiences cannot be ignored and I hope this survey leads to concerted action by all partners across the health and care system to secure much needed improvements.’

Mounting evidence suggests that BAME communities are at increased risk of Covid-19

The survey ran from 7 May to 11 May. The RCN has already released findings from this survey earlier this month.