Study examines risks for BAME healthcare staff
Edinburgh researchers are part of a new £2.1m research study investigating the risks of Covid-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) healthcare workers.
Dr Edward Dove from Edinburgh Law School will be part of a group working with more than 30,000 clinical and non-clinical members of staff to assess their risk of Covid-19, based on the analysis of two million healthcare records.
The study will follow a group of healthcare workers from BAME backgrounds for a period of 12 months to see what changes occur in their physical and mental health, how they have changed their professional and social behaviours in response to Covid-19, and how risky their jobs are.
The study will include non-clinical staff integral to the day to day running of healthcare institutions, including cleaners, kitchen staff and porters.
The research is jointly funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
The UK- Reach study (UK Research study into Ethnicity And COVID-19 outcomes in Healthcare workers) is led by the University of Leicester. A stakeholder group of major national organisations will help to conduct the research and provide evidence to policymakers.
Edinburgh Law School will lead the research strand seeking to understand and address legal, ethical and acceptability issues around data protection, privacy and information governance associated with health workers’ registration data and healthcare data.
It is now abundantly clear that Covid-19 disproportionately affects people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Urgent action must be taken to determine and address the factors underlying this disparity. There is unlikely to be a simple answer and we must consider all possibilities, reflected in the range of projects we have funded, so that we can save as many lives as possible during this pandemic and any future outbreaks.
Globally, we have evidence that people from BAME backgrounds have a higher chance of going to intensive care and dying from COVID-19 – this may also be the case for healthcare staff. This is the first UK study to be conducted on a large scale investigating why BAME healthcare workers could be at greater risk of COVID-19.
The University of Edinburgh has a long history of research excellence in exploring and addressing the ethico-legal implications of health data linkage; never has this area been so important in the time of a pandemic that appears to be causing particular significant morbidity and mortality risk for BAME groups. I very much look forward to extending this important exploration through desk-based and empirical research over the coming months and beyond.
[Image credit: Getty Images Plus/LaylaBird]