I am extremely concerned at the evidence suggesting that people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are being disproportionately affected by Covid-19. In order to decide what actions we can take to reduce the risks for BAME communities, I requested the establishment of an expert Advisory Group chaired by Judge Ray Singh and Dr Heather Payne to investigate the issues.
The Advisory Group has been supported by two sub-groups. One, chaired by Professor Keshav Singhal, developed a workplace risk assessment tool, initially for use by the health and social care workforce. This risk assessment tool was published on 26 May and is now being widely implemented. Further work is underway to adapt the Tool for use in wider occupational settings to help reduce the risks of Covid-19.
The second sub-group, chaired by Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna, has been considering the socio-economic factors influencing adverse Covid-19 health outcomes in BAME groups. This sub-group has been working closely with BAME communities and leaders over the last few weeks and has drawn upon their immense personal experience and professional expertise to help inform the report and recommendations. I welcome the report and I am pleased to confirm it was published on Monday, alongside the detailed rapid research and evidence papers that informed its content.
The sub-group has worked at tremendous pace, reflecting the urgent need to effect change and save lives and I commend the Group for its commitment, tenacity and hard work. The report explores wide-ranging themes, including the risk of Covid-19; race inequality; experiences of racism within Wales; quality of ethnicity data; effective communication with BAME communities; security of employment and income; housing and overcrowding and engagement with young people.
I will now consider the report and its recommendations in detail with my Cabinet Ministers and I look forward to providing a formal response to the wider set of recommendations shortly.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Ogbonna and all members of the group for giving generously their time, expertise and shared personal experiences – and also those who contributed presentations and written evidence describing the wide ranging impacts on their lives, in what is a difficult, emotive and highly charged time.
It is a time for change and for ensuring the changes set in motion are implemented and embedded, so that BAME people across Wales are treated fairly, with improved health and well-being outcomes.