Covid-19

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:29 pm on 18th November 2020.

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Photo of Paul Bristow Paul Bristow Conservative, Peterborough 6:29 pm, 18th November 2020

One of the issues to emerge with covid is the apparent difference in rates and severity for different ethnic groups. To generalise, if someone is from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background, they are at greater risk when it comes to covid. This is accepted. But for some, it has been connected to an argument about discrimination—and this is actually coming from senior figures.

The chair of the British Medical Association appeared before the Health and Social Care Committee yesterday, so I took the chance to ask him about some of the views that he has expressed on this topic. Dr Nagpaul talked about “structural factors”, “differential attainment” and anecdotal evidence on PPE. I asked him several times whether he thought that the NHS was structurally racist. He would not repeat the term, but kept repeating that there were inequalities, and he said: “That’s what I am describing under that heading of racist”.

The NHS is probably the most diverse organisation in the country. It is doing heroic work to battle coronavirus. That effort has come from everyone within it, yet some regard the organisation as somehow racist. For me, this is personal, because both of my parents worked as nurses for our NHS in Peterborough.