Plug the gaps in data

A recurring and frustrating theme of this review has been the lack of reporting of ethnicity data, not just in relation to Covid-19 but more widely. The Government has taken some steps to improve data collection and reporting, with the creation of the ‘Ethnicity facts and figures’ service, but there is much more to be done.

We know there has been a failure to collect and publish basic data by ethnicity, such as the number of health and care staff who have caught Covid-19 or whether they received treatment after a positive test. We heard from Dr Chaand Nagpaul, from the British Medical Association, who said:

‘’Data is crucial. Unless we have the data we won’t know what to do. Even within Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities there are different outcomes. Data needs to tell us: ethnicity, religion, job occupation, profile of that job, whether there was exposure, other medical conditions, info on if they had the right PPE – in order to make sense of this in real time, to understand what is going on.’’

Additionally, the Muslim Council of Britain highlighted the importance of “disaggregated data on Covid-19 mortality rates continu[ing] to be collected to better understand whether there are particular factors that put individuals at higher risk”, and recommended that disaggregated data should be collected as standard practice, including data on faith. As well as disaggregated data we heard that multivariate analysis is important because it allows us to more clearly see inequalities.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma stated that failure to include Gypsy, Roma and Traveller ethnicity categories in the NHS Data Dictionary meant that there was insufficient data available to carry out an analysis on the impact of coronavirus on members of these groups as part of the PHE review of disparities in risks and outcomes.


Recommendation 14: Collect and publish better ethnicity data

The Government should take immediate action to implement the PHE recommendation to “mandate comprehensive ethnicity data collection and recording as part of routine NHS and social care data collection systems”.  [1]

The Government should also ensure all appropriate data collected and released by Government and public bodies is disaggregated to include a demographic breakdown, which enables analysis of particular intersections of ethnicity with other characteristics, such as age or religion.

Part of this will require building trust with communities. The Government should support targeted outreach and consultation activities alongside trusted community leaders to make clear the purpose of data collection to mitigate the perception of risk.

Promoted by David Evans on behalf of the Labour Party, both at Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QT.