The leader of Brent Council called on the Government to use the Covid-19 pandemic to address health inequalities that have led to a disproportionate number of deaths in black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

Cllr Muhammed Butt, writing in The MJ, urged policymakers to examine why people from these communities have been affected so much and look at how this can be prevented in the future.

The council leader said the outbreak should provide an opportunity for “renewed action” in formulating a long-term plan for tackling health inequalities.

He added that to achieve this, ministers must ensure BAME communities do not suffer further once the pandemic has eased, in terms of its impact on hobs, welfare, housing and education.

Cllr Butt noted that BAME people have accounted for more than a third of intensive care admissions during the pandemic despite making up just 14 per cent of the UK population.

Furthermore, more than two thirds of frontline health workers to have suffered Covid-19 related deaths are from minority groups even though they account for just a fifth of the NHS workforce.

He said these statistics make “particularly difficult reading” given that 40 per cent of Londoners are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

In his home borough of Brent, this jumps to 64 per cent, while in neighbouring Harrow, it stands at 58 per cent.

Earlier this year, a Harrow-based charity – The Sangat Centre – called for an investigation into the high level of Covid-19 deaths among BAME groups.

Charity worker Kanti Nagda said: “We appreciate that deaths happen due to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancers, but they have never hit the headlines.

“Commissioners have ignored pre-planning for the health of minorities and educating them.”

He added that the data highlighting the high level of BAME deaths was a realisation of their “worst fear” once the impact of Covid-19 became apparent.

At the time, a spokeswoman for the north-west London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups said it would happily meet with the Sangat Centre and urged everyone to continue to follow government advice on coronavirus.