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Covid: Sajid Javid orders review of medical device racial bias

A review into whether medical devices are equally effective regardless of the patient's ethnicity has been ordered by Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

Research suggests oximeters, which are clipped to a person's finger, can overstate the level of oxygen in the blood of people from ethnic minorities.

Ministers want to know whether bias could have prevented patients receiving appropriate Covid treatment.

Mr Javid said any bias was "totally unacceptable".

But the doctors' union the British Medical Association (BMA) said the review should not simply look at equipment, but also "structural issues" within healthcare that affect ethnic minorities.

Mr Javid announced the review in the Sunday Times, saying he was determined to "close the chasms that the pandemic has exposed".

Asked later on the BBC's Andrew Marr show whether he thought people had died of Covid because of pulse oximeters, Mr Javid said: "I think possibly yes, yes. I don't have the full facts."

He said there was racial bias in some medical instruments, adding: "It's unintentional but it exists."

"And the reason is that a lot of these medical devices, even some of the drugs, some of the procedures, some of the textbooks, most of them are put together in majority white countries and I think this is a systemic issue around this," he said.

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Source: BBC News, 21 November 2021


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