Coronavirus: Somerset NHS trust prioritises BAME staff for tests
Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff who may need face masks or tests for Covid-19 are being prioritised by an NHS trust.
Somerset NHS Foundation Trust is thought to be the UK's first to say staff members are now seen as "vulnerable" after a "disproportionate" number of BAME coronavirus deaths.
The trust said it wanted to "provide as much support as we can".
BAME lead Sunny Sander-Jackson it had "lifted [staff] morale".
Staff were informed in a letter, in which the trust said it wanted to "ensure you feel safe and supported during this difficult time".
'Safe at work'
It said it would be taking several steps to protect staff, and their families, while awaiting the findings of a recently-launched national inquiry into why those from BAME backgrounds seem to be disproportionately affected by coronavirus.
The steps include fitting all BAME colleagues who may need to use a FFP3 mask as soon as possible, to "make sure that you are as safe as you can be while working with Covid-19 patients".
It also said BAME staff would be included in the priority list for testing during the first five days of symptoms.
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Sunny Sander-Jackson said: "I have spoken to many of our BAME colleagues who have understandably expressed concern about the rising disproportionate number of BAME deaths in the UK.
"As BAME network lead at the trust I have been receiving many more calls and emails from BAME colleagues since the letter from our executive team went out to them.
"They have told me that they have felt very supported during this difficult time and that the letter had a real impact in helping to lift their morale."