Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are the first to launch a locally commissioned service (LCS)* in response to the disproportionate effect of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people in the county. It is a critical element of the Sussex-wide BAME Disparity programme.
In June this year Public Health England published a review into the disparities in risks and outcomes from Covid-19 which confirmed a disproportionate impact on people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
The Sussex LCS is a direct and rapid response to this report which affects some of the most vulnerable populations, and will deploy general practice in Sussex, who are best placed to offer bespoke care for individuals in a way that can promote trusting relationships to support these groups.
We know that the BAME population often experience more barriers when accessing health and social care services, as well as being more vulnerable to serious complications of Covid-19. This Sussex LCS seeks to address some of this inequity and to offer some of our most vulnerable people the support and care they need, addressing some of the known health inequalities in our county.
The LCS consist of two parts, and GPs can choose to deliver one or both:
1. Identify BAME patients from their lists who might benefit from specific care and advice to reduce their risk of serious outcomes from Covid-19; and improve communication and engagement with local BAME communities.
2. Offer a supportive monitoring protocol for patients in vulnerable groups who develop Covid-19.
Tim Caroe, Chief Medical Officer, said: “Our commitment to this LCS is underpinned by our desire to make a difference to communities that are disproportionately affected by Covid-19. The LCS promotes a number of new measures to support affected communities at this challenging time.
“The initial response from practices has been excellent and is a further endorsement of how important they feel this work is to their local communities.”
A letter is being sent out to patients in their first language, with preventative guidance and advice on how to protect themselves at this time. To date, the letter has been made available in over 36 different languages.
To complement the LCS, Sussex CCGs, Local Authorities and Public Health are working with Community Voluntary Sector (CVS) organisations to reach out to ethnic minority communities, gather feedback on experiences of healthcare during Covid-19, and consider how best to support people during this time and in the future. A series of webinars are currently being co-designed with the CCGs and local BAME led organisations and will be held during autumn and winter 2020.
Lola Banjoko, Executive Managing Director of Brighton and Hove CCG and Executive Co-lead on the Sussex BAME Disparity programme said: “The locally commissioned service plays such an important role in the Sussex-wide programme to ensure that all our BAME communities understand the risks and symptoms but also feel supported and cared for at this time.
“As we consider the advice from the scientists about the virus we remain committed to the population of Sussex, especially those at greater risk, to provide them with the best possible health and care support.”