Letter from Preet Kaur Gill MP on health inequalities

Preet Kaur Gill MP has called on the Government to urgently address health disparities between religious groups after new Covid data shows growing divergence.  

The latest ONS data emphasises the alarming Covid mortality rates among Sikhs, Hindus, Jews and Muslims compared to Christians and people of no faith. 

Even more worryingly, this data shows that the Covid mortality rate for Sikhs and Muslims compared to Christians has worsened between the first and second wave. For Sikh men, the age-adjusted risk increased from 1.3 times to that of Christians, to 1.7 times. 

Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Edgbaston in Birmingham said, “Given the great pain experienced by the Sikh community during the worst of the first wave last year, it is extremely disturbing to see that not only has the work done on health disparities failed to keep up with the problem, it’s gone backwards” 

“We know that structural inequalities stretch through every aspect of life and have a part to play in the enormous differences we have seen between different ethnic groups. However, these inequalities cannot be explained by ethnicity alone, and this new data paints a complex picture.  

“I have written to the equalities minister to ask that the lack of routine data collected on Sikhs is addressed. Currently, the ONS advises public bodies to only use the existing ethnic categories in the census to deliver public services. This excludes information for groups including Sikhs and Jews. Given the fact that this new information on Covid mortality rates shows stark differences between majority Asian religious groups, it seems increasingly misguided to ignore these factors. 

“Better data and knowledge is integral in addressing disparities, especially when as it stands routine data collection for Sikhs does not exist. Public bodies must have better information on the communities they serve in order to address these shocking health inequalities.” 

Dr Sukdev Singh, a resident in Edgbaston constituency, not only sadly lost a loved one to Covid but is also Chair of the Sikh Doctor’s Association and has had to support patients and families throughout the pandemic.  

He commented, “It is really concerning to see inequalities seemingly grow between Sikh people and those from other backgrounds. I’ve seen first-hand how devastating this virus has been to my family and my community. It’s disappointing that the Government hasn’t done more to protect those that are being the worst affected by the pandemic, particularly given the national debate on equality that was widely publicised following the first wave. 

“The Government now needs to step up and support those who are worse affected so that we can recover from this crisis. But before these inequalities can be put remedied, the Government needs to start with understanding exactly how many people are from a Sikh ethnic background so that the right resource and funding can be sent to those communities.” 

To read the letter from Preet Kaur Gill MP to the equalities minister, where she asks for an explanation on the steps being taken to ensure the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Sikhs is explained and in turn addressed with future monitoring of public service provision, please visit: https://preetkaurgill.com/content/preet-responds-news-covid-death-inequalities-worsened-between-waves 

ENDS 

Information for editors: 

For the latest ONS data release on deaths involving Covid-19 by religious group, please see here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/releases/deathsinvolvingcovid19byreligiousgroupenglanddeathsoccurringbetween24january2020and28february2021