black asian and minority ethnic, bame, covid-19

How the NHS sets out to support BAME staff

By Luke Aldred

​The government has pledged a review, by Public Health England (PHE), into how ethnicity affects vulnerability to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. This is due to be published within the next few days.

It’ll explore why black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people appear to be more at risk from the virus, compared to white health and social care works in the UK. Deprivation, age, gender, and obesity will also feature in the review, as well as vulnerable groups such as people who are homeless and rough sleeping.

This review will provide valuable insight into the emerging evidence that the virus is having a disproportionate effect on different groups; groups that make up a large portion of our health and social care workforce in the UK. The hope is that the review’s findings will inform actions to reduce harm and risk to our frontline workers.

The NHS has responded with how it plans to support BAME staff during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic:

Protection of workers

It’ll carry out improved risk assessments that specifically consider the physical and mental health of BAME staff, and is working with Freedom to Speak Up Guardians to ensure all workers feel empowered to raise concerns safely.


Staff networks are being strengthened and prioritised to enable the NHS to learn from workers’ lived experiences, to share guidance and hear from them on what actions can be taken to offer further support. This includes a series of webinars using existing BAME, faith and other networks.


There will be ongoing tailored health and wellbeing support during and after the crisis. The NHS is taking into consideration the emotional toll COVID-19 is having on BAME communities and working to ensure that staff needs are being met, both now and beyond the emergency response.


In order to create positive communications around BAME staff and patients, the NHS is creating short videos profiling the role that these workers are playing, and thanking them for their efforts.

Just over 20% of the NHS workforce is BAME, many being migrant workers. At Sanctuary International, we’ve placed hundreds of international staff from places such as the Philippines, India, Africa and the Caribbean into health and social care roles, creating a stress-free relocation experience for workers and their families during their move to the UK. Find out more about what we do.

Find out more about the BAME communities’ great contribution to the NHS, or we have prepared a collection of blogs around working for the NHS.