Protecting BME and Vulnerable Healthcare Workers | Litmus UK

By Anne Anderson, Director of Clinical Governance

Litmus is proud to be leading the way on protecting BME and vulnerable healthcare workers during COVID-19 with a non-discriminatory risk assessment tool.  

Following research and concerns raised by agency workers, government and public health have reiterated that staffing agencies must conduct robust risk assessments for vulnerable workers, particularly staff from black and minority ethnic backgrounds (BME).

Our approach to risk assessments has recently been commended by The Chief Nursing Officer’s BME Strategic Advisory Group, and we urge any clients or supply chain partners who wish to replicate it for their staff to get in touch.

Our approach explained

Since the first news announcement in January, our dedicated COVID-19 task force team has worked proactively to ensure we send the right advice and support to all our workers. This began with updates for those classed as having an increased risk in the first few weeks (based on age and/or existing medical conditions) and quickly progressed to include all groups now classed as vulnerable, including BME workers.

Risk assessments were a priority focus for us, and we rapidly highlighted the need for a unified approach to our senior NHS and government policy advisor contacts. In the absence of a formal model, we developed our own non-discriminatory COVID-19 risk assessment tool, based on recommendations from NHS Wales and the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), and this model has since had excellent feedback.

Most of our supply chain partners and clients have already followed our approach, adopting our bespoke stratification tool, which risk assesses without recording potentially discriminatory data on ethnicity, gender, age, weight or health conditions.

BME healthcare worker risks

Statistics from the BMA suggest the risk of dying from COVID-19 is effectively doubled for BME healthcare workers. Disproportionate numbers of healthcare worker deaths reported by the NHS show the stark reality and scale of the issue:

As a nurse, I am proud to be leading efforts to safeguard and protect BME and other vulnerable workers as they bravely step up to support the NHS through the second wave and beyond.

Anne Anderson
Director of Clinical Governance

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