A taskforce to look at addressing health inequalities in Wales should now be put in place by the Welsh Government. This call comes from Councillor Rodney Berman, the lead Welsh Liberal Democrat candidate for South Wales Central for the 2021 Senedd elections.
It follows the publication of a report from the Runnymede Trust showing how those from black and ethnic minority communities have for various reasons been more likely to be exposed to Covid-19, and data previously published by the Office for National Statistics showing that those living in Wales’ most deprived areas (defined as the 20% most deprived areas using the Welsh index of multiple deprivation) have been nearly twice as likely to have died from Covid-19 than those in less deprived parts of the country.
Councillor Berman said: “There have now been various reports during the pandemic showing how those from BAME backgrounds, and those from our poorest communities in Wales, have suffered disproportionately from the impact of Covid-19 and been significantly more likely to have died as a result.
“In certain regards these reports are simply exposing pre-existing inequalities in health outcomes that have been there for some time between members of those communities and others, but we should see them now as a wake-up call.
“We’ve been failing to do enough to tackle health inequalities in Wales for far too long. It is wrong that anyone should expect to live around 9 years less, or spend up to 11 years more of their life in poor health, just because they were born and brought up in one of our poorest communities.
“The Runnymede Trust has concluded that those from BAME communities have been more exposed to Covid-19 for a number of reasons. These include being more likely to work in the sorts of jobs where they are more exposed to diseases like Covid-19; being more reliant on using public transport; being more likely to live in over-crowded and multi-generational households; and being less likely to be provided with appropriate protection by their employers. People shouldn’t just have to accept this simply because they come from a BAME community.
“It’s time for concerted action on tackling health inequalities in Wales, and all the factors which contribute to them. That’s why I am now calling on the Welsh Government to put a taskforce in place to examine what should be done to address this issue.
“Tackling health inequalities has to be placed higher up the agenda and given greater priority going forwards. We must now seek expert advice to establish how this could best be achieved.”
- Over Exposed and Under-Protected - The Devastating Impact of COVID-19 on Black and Minority Ethnic Communities in Great Britain has today been published by the Runnymede Trust and is available at: https://www.runnymedetrust.org/projects-and-publications/employment-3/overexposed-and-underprotected-covid-19s-impact-on-bme-communities.html
- The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics comparing death rates from Covid-19 in areas by local area and socioeconomic deprivation can be found here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsinvolvingcovid19bylocalareasanddeprivation/deathsoccurringbetween1marchand31may2020
- Figures showing the difference in life expectancy and health life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas in Wales are published by the Office for National Statistics and can be found here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthinequalities/bulletins/healthstatelifeexpectanciesbyindexofmultipledeprivationimd/2015to2017#:~:text=In%20Wales%2C%20the%20range%20in,females%20in%202015%20to%202017