The British Medical Association has demanded an explanation from the government following reports that pages containing recommendations to protect black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities were removed from last week’s Covid-19 disparity report.

In a letter sent to health secretary Matt Hancock, shared exclusively with the Guardian, the head of the BMA called for the missing pages and recommendations to be published immediately.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul CBE, the BMA council chair, noted his concern over reports that 69 pages covering seven recommendations were removed from last week’s Public Health England’s report.

“I’m finding it inexplicable the government did not release the full report at a time not only when the BAME community suffered so disproportionately with the virus, but also at a time when there was global outcry and outrage to racial inequalities,” Nagpaul said.

On Thursday, a senior academic disclosed that the advice for the government on how to protect BAME communities from coronavirus has yet to be published.

The safeguarding proposals were drawn up in a document separate from the review published last week showing that Covid-19 kills disproportionately high numbers of people from ethnic minorities. The review was widely criticised for failing to investigate possible reasons for the disparities or make recommendations on how to address them.

Last week, Kemi Badenoch, the minister for women and equalities, told the Commons that Public Health England (PHE) was unable to make any recommendations in its report on BAME people and coronavirus because some of the data needed was not available.

But Prof Raj Bhopal, a scientist who had been asked to peer-review the unpublished recommendations file, told the BBC that parliament had “not been told the full truth”.

Bhopal, from the University of Edinburgh, described the recommendations document as an “open secret” and said it had “every hallmark of a [government] report ready to go to the press”.

He added: “If you consult the public, you must publish the results. Otherwise, you’ve wasted their time, you’ve wasted your own time, you’ve wasted taxpayers’ money, and you’ve lost trust.”

PHE said the recommendations would be published next week at the same time that they were submitted to ministers.

“We feel [the review] hasn’t done justice to the aims of having an investigation and it has not done justice to the BAME community,” Nagpaul said. “The raison d’etre of the review was for it to be a basis for change. So a review without the recommendation was basically a statistical analysis, and it wasn’t the review we were all expecting to be published. And now we know the reason why it wasn’t published, was because it wasn’t the full report.”

In the letter, the BMA’s chair wrote: “A clear response is needed as to why these pages and important recommendations were omitted from publication, especially when it is so critical that action is taken to save lives now and reduce race inequalities.”

The letter continued: “The BMA called for this review and contributed our views to it, and we were extremely disappointed that the points raised in our submission were not addressed in the report published on 2 June. It now appears that pages addressing these and the contributions from other stakeholders may have been removed from the final report.”

A PHE spokesperson said: “The government commissioned PHE to conduct an epidemiological review to analyse how different factors can impact on people’s health outcomes from Covid 19. This was published in full on the 2 June.

“In parallel, Prof Kevin Fenton, on PHE’s behalf, engaged with a significant number of individuals and organisations within the BAME community, to hear their views, concerns and ideas about the impact of Covid-19 on their communities.

“This important engagement work will inform the work the equalities minister is now taking forward. We intend to both formally submit this work to the minister next week, and will publish it at the same time.”

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