Campaigners say a planned review into the health impact of potential bias in medical devices is unlikely to explain the disproportionate number of deaths of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.
The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will launch an independent review into potential bias of items, such as oxygen measuring devices, and the impact on patients from different ethnic groups.
Health bosses say there are concerns that the way medical devices and technologies are designed and used could mean a patient’s diagnosis and treatment is affected by their gender or ethnic background, exacerbating existing inequalities in healthcare.
DHSC said research has concluded darker skinned patients who might need to be hospitalised are at greater risk of inaccurate results from oximeters due to a tendency for this group to present higher levels of oxygen in their blood.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed health disparities across the country as the virus had a greater impact on those whose underlying health was poorer and death rates have been higher among people from ethnic minority communities.
Health bosses said all devices will be covered by the review, including MRI scanners which are still not recommended for use for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
However, CEO of the Race Equality Foundation Jabeer Butt OBE said the review does not replace the need for an urgent public inquiry.
“This review is welcome but is unlikely to explain the disproportionate deaths of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, including health and care workers, during Covid.
“It certainly does not replace the need for an urgent public inquiry, to properly explore why the pandemic had such a devastating impact on some groups in Britain.”
Details of who will be leading the review will be set out in due course.