Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/nclexion/public_html/wp-content/themes/jnews/class/ContentTag.php on line 47
The Covid-19 death rate in social care staff is double that of the general working age population, according to new data published by the National Office for Statistics (ONS) today.
New data based on deaths registered up to and including 20 April 2020 in England and Wales recorded a total of 131 deaths involving Covid-19 among social care workers.
“These shocking figures reveal how care staff are putting their lives on the line by going to work”
The rate was calcuated as 23.4 deaths per 100,000 for males and 9.6 deaths per 100,000 females.
The majority of the deaths – 98 out of 131 – were among care workers and home carers. The other roles included in the data set were social workers, managers of residential care institutions and care escorts.
The rate of death in the social care workfore was “statistically significantly higher” than that among people of the same age and sex in the general population, according to the ONS.
It was also double the rate of the death in the general population of 20- to 64-year-olds in England and Wales.
Of the 2,494 deaths involving Covid-19 in this age group, nearly two-thirds were among men (1,612) – equating to a rate of 9.9 deaths per 100,000, compared with 5.2 deaths per 100,000 females (882 deaths).
Meanwhile, the ONS found that the rate of death involving Covid-19 among health workers – such as nurses, midwives, doctors, nursing assistants, paramedics, ambulance staff and hospital porters – was not “statistically different” to the general working population.
The death rate for males in these roles was 10.2 deaths per 100,000 men and 4.8 deaths per 100,000 women.
Of all the individual healthcare professions, a reliable rate could only be calculated for female nurses, which was 6.7 deaths involving Covid-19 per 100,000 females, equivalent to 31 deaths.
Again, this rate was not found to be “statistically different” to the rate of death involving Covid-19 among females of the same age in the general population.
It was noted that some healthcare workers “may have reduced exposure” to the virus during lockdown due to reduced patient attendance or service closures, for example those working in dental or optical care.
The ONS also said that some deaths among healthcare workers would be investigated by coroners and therefore there would a delay in the registration of these deaths.
As more deaths were recorded and registered, the ONS stressed it would be “important to repeat these analyses to see if there are any changes in the rates of death involving Covid-19 among healthcare workers”.
Responding to data, Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “These shocking figures reveal how care staff are literally putting their lives on the line by going to work.
“Their jobs can’t be done without getting up close to the vulnerable and elderly individuals they care for in residential homes and in the community.”
Ms McAnea stressed that having access to personal protective equipment (PPE) was “essential for employees and residents”.
“It’s a scandal many care staff are going into workplaces where safety kit is still unavailable or locked away,” she added.
Care staff who should be self-isolating were also “being pressured into attending work by unscrupulous employers or because they can’t get by on less than their full wages”, warned Ms McAnea.
She added that the government’s advice on PPE for the care sector “remains inconsistent and confusing”, adding this was “simply unacceptable nearly two months into the lockdown”.
“Radical reform is needed in order to keep care homes from being treated as second-class citizens”
Dr Layla McCay, director at the NHS Confederation, added: “There is a tragedy unfolding in care homes and these figures which show men particularly and women working in social care have significantly raised rates of death involving Covid-19 are extremely concerning.
“Radical reform is needed in order to keep care homes from being treated as second-class citizens. That means doing our utmost locally and nationally to support this vital provider of care, with the proper PPE, training and support in infection control, as well as adequate funding.”
She said continued analysis of the death rates among health workers would be “vital” as routine services were restored.
On the same day that the ONS released the figures, the government announced that it had launched a new online portal for care homes to arrange deliveries of Covid-19 test kits.
All symptomatic and asymptomatic care home staff and residents in England are now eligible for testing, but resources will be prioritised for care homes that look after the over 65s.
Care minister Helen Whately said: “Care homes are on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19 and we are determined that staff have everything they need to keep themselves and their residents safe.
“Testing is a crucial part of this. It helps prevent and control outbreaks and means steps can be taken to reduce the spread the virus and protect the most vulnerable.
“By prioritising thousands of tests for care home staff and residents, we can target our national testing capacity in the areas and care homes with the greatest need.”