Calls to publish data on ethnicity of coronavirus victims

Liberal Democrats urge Scottish Government to make figures public following move by NHS England.

Calls to publish data on ethnicity of coronavirus victims STV News
Coronavirus: Scottish Lib Dems want Covid-19 ethnicity breakdown.

The Scottish Government is facing calls to publish data on the ethnicity of people who have died from Covid-19.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats want ministers to make the figures public in light of the UK Government pledging to hold a formal review into why black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) appear to be disproportionately affected by coronavirus.

NHS England published data showing the ethnic breakdown for the first time on Monday of patients in hospitals in England who had tested positive for Covid-19 at time of death.

The figures, using data up to April 17, indicated 16.2% of these deaths were from ethnic minority communities while the 2011 census indicated 10.8% of the UK population was black or Asian.

The first 10 doctors in the UK named as having died from the virus were all from BAME backgrounds, which British Medical Association council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said was “extremely disturbing and worrying”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “When we see the eulogies of heroic NHS workers who have died in the course of this crisis, it is impossible to escape the fact that so many of those who have put their lives on the line are of BAME ethnicity.

“With evidence from other parts of the UK suggesting that BAME groups appear to be disproportionately affected, it is important that here in Scotland we have a clear picture and understanding of the situation.

“Alongside the age and gender data that it already publishes, the Scottish Government should publish its own ethnicity data and outline what work it is undertaking to ensure that people are kept safe.”

Labour MSP Anas Sarwar also called for the figures to be made public, saying data from England is “deeply worrying”.

He said: “There are differences in demographics across the UK, but it’s vital that we start recording and publishing data in Scotland to find out if a similar pattern is happening here.

“I hope the Scottish Government will consider this, not least to ease the considerable anxiety in Scotland’s BAME communities.”

National Records of Scotland (NRS) said that they are actively considering how they release data.

A spokeswoman said: “NRS is currently not planning to publish details of Covid-19 deaths by ethnicity because the registered death data held by NRS at present is not suitable for calculating reliable mortality rates for most ethnicities.

“NRS is focused on providing people across Scotland with clear and comprehensive information on the impact of Covid-19.”