A Herefordshire has carried out breakthrough research into ‘alarming’ Covid death figures among health staff, it has been revealed.

His research has helped highlight the shockingly high numbers of deaths among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff and led to a change in the way the NHS collects information as it gears up for a potential second wave.

But Dr Simon Lennane believes the government still isn’t being open enough about the issue and has been shocked by the ‘pushback’ he has seen from people unwilling to accept the evidence.

“I was astounded. When Black and Asian people raised the issue they got a lot of pushback. They were accused of playing the race card.

“I’m white. When I raised it I didn’t get that pushback. I was able to tell the story”

Dr Lennane, a GP at Alston Street Surgery in Ross-on-Wye, threw himself into long hours of research at night after he spotted in the news that the first ten health workers to die from Covid in Britain were all from ethnic minorities.

He and Bristol University Professor Tim Cook, who had ‘bumped into each other on Twitter, compiled data on the proportion of BAME health staff dying from Covid, using reports they could authenticate in news coverage and on social media.

They found a massive discrepancy between the proportion of BAME staff in the NHS and the proportion dying.

Their first analysis showed that BAME members make up 44% of NHS medical staff, yet 95% of all the deaths in this group are BAME.

Of all NHS staff, BAME members make up 21%, but 63% of all Covid deaths in the NHS are BAME.

‘The numbers were very powerful and told a salutary story,” said Dr Lennane.

His research, now published on specialist health platforms, also helped to reveal that deaths were much less likely among medical staff on Covid wards or in Intensive Care, and much more in general wards.

'PPE guidance was wrong'

He believes it shows that the Personal Protective Equipment guidance at the time was wrong, with PPE safeguarding staff at most risk, but other staff who were told they did not require PPE became infected, often by patients not showing symptoms.

He remains unsure about why BAME individuals have a higher death rate, but thinks its vital that the data is public so that plans can be made for what he fears will be ‘a very difficult winter.’

Yet while the government are now collating information about ethnic deaths, Dr Lennane says they are not making it public.

“This happened at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement and it was a political hot potato. They are still very coy.

“The NHS is trying to dampen down the story. But it’s a story that must be told. We have handed over our work to better researchers now.

“But I’ve been privileged to work on this and to help make a difference.”

The Alton Street surgery has been nominated in the Hereford Times Health and Social Care Awards, which highlight outstanding work.

Do you know an individual or a team who deserves special recognition.

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