The tragic deaths of key workers such as healthcare staff – many of whom are BAME and/or originate from overseas – due to coronavirus is horrifying the nation.
NHS staff and care workers are particularly at high risk due to their exposure to the deadly COVID-19 virus on a regular basis.
Amged El-Hawrani, 55, was the first confirmed NHS consultant to pass away after being diagnosed with COVID-19. El-Hawrani was an ear, nose and throat specialist at Queen’s Hospital Burton in Staffordshire.
Amal El-Hawrani, his sibling, commented that the sense of community service is a key motivation for BAME individuals to choose medicine as a career path.
El-Hawrani said: “It’s important that people recognise the influence of immigrants, not just in the NHS.”
Chowdhury had raised concerns about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for himself and his NHS colleagues just five days before he was admitted to hospital
He also spoke of his brother’s wishes to become an orthopaedic surgeon, yet this dream wasn’t a realistic avenue due to ‘racial prejudice.’ He hopes that the pandemic will cause a nationwide reflection on how immigrants contribute to the wellbeing of the UK as well as consideration to which jobs are more important as opposed to the ones society tends to favour.
The death of consultant urologist Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, a member of staff at Homerton hospital in Hackney, mirrors Amged El-Harwani’s experience.
Chowdhury’s 18-year-old son, Intisar Chowdhury, said his Father came from “very humble beginnings” in Bangladesh before he became dedicated to saving lives in Britain.
“He never took time off, he dedicated his entire life to helping others, making a difference and saving lives”, his son said.
Mr. Chowdhury and his wife also experienced racism when arriving in the UK, “like every single immigrant”, his son commented.
Chowdhury had raised concerns about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for himself and his NHS colleagues just five days before he was admitted to hospital. He called for “appropriate PPE and remedies” to “protect ourselves and our families.”
Chowdhury’s son believes it was his father’s words, and his death, that drove forward the government’s efforts in getting PPE delivered. Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, recently labelled the government’s actions as a ‘Herculean’ effort and admits the task ahead – to ensure the equipment is provided quickly and to all members of staff who need it – is ‘huge’.
BAME people account for 14% of the British population yet make up 35% of COVID-19 hospital patients in intensive care
The has been a launch of an inquiry into the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities. BAME people account for 14% of the British population yet make up 35% of COVID-19 hospital patients in intensive care.
Both El-Hawrani and Chowdhury support the inquiry, with Intisar Chowdhury stating “I don’t know how I am going to process that” if a link between ethnic background and intensive care admission is proven.
El-Hawrani said: “In war, you have people who are cannon fodder. There’s definitely an element of that here – BAME doctors don’t always get the prestigious cushy roles.”
The reality is harrowing for all those experiencing the frontline and losing loved ones due to lack of PPE and government efficiency. BAME healthcare workers cannot be ‘cannon fodder’ in this crisis.
[Header image: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash.]