The West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WY&H HCP) Review into the impact of COVID-19 on health inequalities and support needed for Black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and colleagues has published its report setting out the critical next steps today (Thursday 22 October).

The review panel sessions, chaired by Professor Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, a leading figure in national health and care policy, included WY&H HCP leaders, members of the WY&H HCP BAME Network and voluntary and community sector partners.

All worked tirelessly through the summer to investigate and understand the disparities in the risks and outcomes of COVID-19, as well as learn from the experience of the organisations and colleagues that make up WY&H HCP.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every child, adult, family and community in West Yorkshire and Harrogate, with some of the biggest impacts seen for the most economically disadvantaged and those from BAME communities.

The review’s original work themes, such as population health inequalities and workforce were refined into four distinct themes, via panel member contributions, initial review of the evidence and further discussion by the panel. The review themes are:

  • Improving access to safe work for BAME colleagues in West Yorkshire and Harrogate
  • ​​​​​Ensuring the Partnership’s leadership is reflective of communities
  • Population planning (using information to make sure that services meet different groups’ needs)
  • Reducing Inequalities in mental health outcomes by ethnicity.

Report recommendations include:

  • Delivery of co-designed ethnically appropriate advice and support for people working in high risk roles to mitigate risk to their heath, their families and communities.
  • Equality of opportunities for BAME groups in all economic development and recovery plans, including work on apprenticeships, job creation and start up grants.
  • The coproduction of an anti-racism campaign. Recognising and appreciating that BAME is not one homogenous population.
  • Inclusive leadership standards which leaders pledge to personally uphold within their organisations, starting with recruitment and selection processes.
  • Development of independent discrimination panels with BAME representation to review all cases of racial discrimination in disciplinary and complaints cases.
  • All organisations in West Yorkshire and Harrogate engage in positive action to actively seek out local, ethnically representative talent with local recruitment targets for senior level roles.
  • Ensure that ethnicity recording is 100% in all settings and that this data, coupled with local insight, is used across WY&H HCP to inform the design and delivery of care.
  • Monitoring of service access, uptake and outcomes by ethnicity to identify inequalities.
  • Demonstration that services are culturally competent and are contributing towards reducing inequalities.
  • Work to address the determinants that lead to ethnic inequalities in mental health. This includes using procurement and employment opportunities to create community wealth among BAME populations, improving housing conditions for people from BAME communities, and equity in skills opportunities.
  • Work together to co-ordinate, lead and measure progress on reducing inequalities in mental health by ethnicity, including sharing good practice, improving use of evidence and coordinating training.
  • Support the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to provide ongoing mental health support to Black, Asian and minority ethnicity communities.  Colleagues from this sector should receive additional specialist emotional and practical support to continue this work.

Professor Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘Despite historic events and the stark reality of the compelling evidence before us, I like many others want to know why people from BAME communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and continue, yet again, to be impacted by health inequalities and an unjust society. Being involved in this important review has given me both the opportunity to learn more about West Yorkshire and Harrogate’s cultural vibrancy, strong diverse communities and identities, and to facilitate a much needed conversation which builds on the work already well underway by the Partnership. There is much to be proud of and it gives me genuine hope for current and future BAME generations. I was honoured to be invited to chair the BAME review sessions for the Partnership’.

Rob Webster (CBE), WY&H HCP CEO Lead and CEO for South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Trust said: ‘Our Partnership has big ambitions to tackle health inequalities and support Black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and colleagues. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought these issues into even sharper focus, with people from BAME communities more likely to be affected and more likely to die from coronavirus. This report shows we were right to bring fresh eyes and external challenge to our plans. We will make the implementation of the recommendations a clear priority for the Partnership and ask our Partnership Board and BAME Network to hold us to account in the future. Together we can genuinely change the experiences of our communities and staff for good’.

Robin Tuddenham, CEO for Calderdale Council, Chief Officer for Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group and Co-Chair for WY&H HCP Improving Population Health Programme said: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the impact of deep-seated and long-standing health inequalities faced by our BAME communities and colleagues. This review gives us a powerful set of actions, building upon our focus and determination to deliver on this. The time to change and the opportunity to act is now’.

Dr Sohail Abbas, Chair of the WY&H HCP Health Inequalities Network added: ‘West Yorkshire and Harrogate has a diverse population which has a complex profile across the region as a whole and within the six local places (Bradford district and Craven; Calderdale, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield). Therefore activity in this arena should be locally-led and driven in order to address the nuances and differences of each area and to have the greatest impact. Integral to this review is the impact of interpersonal, institutional and structural racism on inequalities in health outcomes for the BAME population. Only by working together at both a West Yorkshire and Harrogate and local level can we really make a positive difference’.

Alison Lowe, CEO for Touchstone (Leeds) and Chair of the Voluntary and Community Sector Review Sub-group said: ‘Current events, such as COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter Movement, have brought into focus inequalities in health outcomes that disproportionately affect people from BAME communities. This makes the review carried out and the subsequent findings extremely important if the Partnership is to improve BAME people’s health and ensure a fairer society for all living across the area.’

An action plan will be developed to support the implementation of the recommendations. This will be considered and approved by the WY&H HCP Partnership Board in December 2020, who will periodically review progress against these recommendations. All information is and will be made available to the public. The action plan will be accompanied by a set of indicators to measure progress over time.

Kez Hayat, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and member of WY&H HCP BAME Network added: ‘I am pleased the Partnership is taking a proactive approach in engaging and involving members of BAME staff. It is crucial that such networks have the opportunity so that they can actively influence the big ambitions through their lived experiences and intrinsic knowledge in tackling the wider health and workforce inequalities. It will be crucial for the Partnership to continue to focus on ensuring visible diversity on decision making boards and in our wider organisations at all levels so it is truly reflective of the communities we serve’.

Cllr Tim Swift Chair of the WY&H Health and Care Partnership Board said: ‘I would personally like to thank everyone for their hard work and involvement in this report. This includes the WY&H BAME Network and community partners who have given their time freely without hesitation to do what is right for all communities across our area. My thanks also to Professor Dame Donna Kinnair for her leadership in challenging us all to think differently. As Chair of the WY&H Partnership’s Board I will be asking the Board to formally accept and commit to the recommendations, and to monitor the progress made carefully to ensure positive outcomes are delivered’.

You can access the report, which is also produced in alternative formats, the insight used to inform the recommendations and other supporting information at https://www.wyhpartnership.co.uk/publications from the 22 October 2020 at 10am.

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