The Royal College of Nursing has called an investigation launched today into racial inequalities exposed by coronavirus ‘long overdue’.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it will use its legal powers to examine the ‘loss of lives and livelihoods’ among different minorities and recommend ways to tackle the entrenched racial equalities ‘laid bare’ during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The inquiry follows a report published earlier this week by Public Health England that showed death rates from Covid-19 are higher for black and Asian groups than white groups.
RCN chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair said the inquiry is ‘long overdue as inequalities in health and life outcomes are already known’.
She continued: ‘The message is clear: equality and inclusion are the bedrock for good health, prosperity and a cohesive society.
‘It is time for us to all talk seriously about racism, disadvantage and privilege, and take action. Long-term sustainable change is what is needed now.’
Dame Donna added that nurses see systemic racism and structural inequalities ‘in their work every day’, although ‘those in power have avoided tackling the issues’.
The EHRC said the inquiry will be first discussed with race equality leaders. It forms part of a long-term probe by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into structural racial inequalities.
Equality and Human Rights Commission chair David Isaac said: ‘Now is a once in a generation opportunity to tackle long-standing entrenched racial inequalities.
‘We intend to use our statutory powers to address the loss of lives and livelihoods of people from different ethnic minorities.’