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The Impact of COVID19 on the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community living in Hastings & St Leonards-on-Sea

HVA was commissioned by Sussex NHS to participate in a research project looking into the impact of COVID19 on the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community living in Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea.  The results will form part of a strategy to ensure that our most vulnerable communities are protected and looked after during the current pandemic.  The executive summary is outlined below. If you would like further information about the project please contact Marc Turczanski on marc@hastingsvoluntaryaction.org.uk

Executive Summary

Research Rationale
• To consider the causes, understanding and awareness within the BAME community of Hastings and St Leonards of the increased risk they faced from COVID-19
• To begin to consider the effect of increased risk of COVD-19 on the BAME community based on their pre COVID-19 experiences of using NHS services
• To look at the formal and informal networks and the sources of influence within the BAME communities

Methodology
• Development of a 14-question questionnaire
• Face-to-face interviews
• Creation of a project “Challenge Panel” made of key local stakeholders and academics partners

Limitations
• Limited development and delivery time
• Reduced opportunity for large scale engagement due to operational restrictions due to COVID-19
• Low infection rates of COVID-19 within Hastings and St Leonards

Key Findings
• The BAME communities within Hastings and St Leonards do not see themselves as a single homogenous group making the development of a single engagement strategy very difficult
• The term BAME itself creates a barrier to effective engagement
• Past direct experience of using NHS services has affected trust
• Stigma of being diagnosed with COVID-19 potentially prevented accessing support and advice
• Risk of infection from COVID-19 within BAME communities increases/decreases in line with socioeconomic factors i.e. poverty, unemployment, education and immigration status, more so than with ethnicity
• Community leaders and influential sources of information within communities are not easy to identify but are critical to reach to bring about effective change
• Effective engagement was hampered due to previous BAME engagement strategies and/or targeted health awareness raising activities that did not bring about lasting change or ended without proper feedback/community consultation

Summary Recommendations
• To critically assess previous reviews, assessments and reports on BAME access to NHS services and effectively report back to the community on results
• To support and train all frontline NHS staff to ensure fairer and better access for BAME patients
• To strengthen relationships at a grassroots community level
• To utilise new methods of online contact/engagement through social media but to acknowledge that not all communities will be able to use these due to cost, capacity and knowledge
• To develop closer working relationship with industries/local employers where there are more BAME workers

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