Bristol’s Deputy Mayor reflects on the impact of ARC West’s COVID race disparities rapid report
23 March 2022
Asher Craig, Bristol’s Deputy Mayor, has spoken about the impact that NIHR ARC West’s ground-breaking COVID race disparities review had on the city’s response to the pandemic.
In April 2020 ARC West worked with Bristol City Council (BCC) on a rapid evidence synthesis on ethnic disparities in COVID-19, to support planning for the pandemic. We think that this was the first such review in the UK on the urgent question of why COVID was disproportionately affecting Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.
This collaboration aimed to answer a difficult question that at that time was not being researched, despite the first ten doctors who died of COVID in the UK all being from Black, Asian or other minority ethnic backgrounds.
The verdict of our review has been confirmed by subsequent research. It was published on our website the same day that the UK Government launched a public enquiry on race disparities in COVID. The review was also quoted in parliament by East Bristol MP Kerry McCarthy.
In a specially commissioned video, Asher describes how the ARC West report paved the way for the Bristol Race Equality COVID-19 Steering Group. The group brings together all the key players in the city to address this important issue. They used the recommendations highlighted from that review to address the disparities over the course of the following year.
Since then, several such reviews have been published across the world.
In the video, Asher describes the impact of the work, saying:
“The ARC West rapid review into COVID-19 and its impact in terms of race disparities was the first report that came out. Thank you so much to both Tim [Jones] and Loubaba [Mamluk], and ARC really, for stepping up and taking on this piece of work, and doing what it was, a rapid review.
“Because it was the report that really helped us to launch the COVID-19 Race Equality Group. And off the back of the recommendations, we set up task and finish groups. Because what was really important was how we were going to make sure that those recommendations were actually acted upon.”
Professor John Macleod, Director of NIHR ARC West, said:
“This is precisely the kind of timely research in response to immediate need that makes me feel so proud of our team and privileged to work with them. It’s great to hear Asher Craig confirm its impact.”