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More than 100 nurses who had Covid-19 have died across England and Wales this year, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics.
The ONS confirmed that nurses had “statistically significantly higher rates of death involving Covid-19” compared with the general population.
“The loss of life we are seeing during the pandemic among healthcare staff is heart-breaking”
In total, 101 nurse deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered between 9 March and 25 May, of which 31 were men and 70 were women.
While among the health care professions as a whole, only men had a higher rate of death involving Covid-19 when compared with people of the same age and sex in the general population, nurses had elevated death rates across both sexes.
The rate of death among the nurse profession was calculated at 50.4 per 100,000 men and 15.3 deaths per 100,000 women – this compares with 19.1 and 9.7 for men and women respectively in the general population.
Nursing auxiliaries and assistants were also found to have “elevated risks” among men – with 30 deaths recorded, translating to 58.9 deaths per 100,000.
Overall the report said that “results of this analysis show that occupations, such as nurses, with high potential exposure to Covid-19…had elevated rates of death involving Covid-19”.
“However, our findings do not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving Covid-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure,” it added.
Among the whole health workforce, the ONS reported that men had a “statistically significant higher rate of death involving Covid-19 compared with the rate of death involving Covid-19 in the general working population”.
It recorded a total of 130 male deaths involving coronavirus across the health workforce – calculated as 30.4 deaths per 100,000 men.
For women in health professions there were 142 deaths recorded (11 deaths per 100,000 women) and this was deemed “not significantly different to that observed in the general population among women of the same age”.
As reflected in the ONS’ previous analysis published last month, the rates of death involving coronavirus among men and women social care workers were still “found to be statistically significantly higher than the rates of death involving Covid-19 among those of the same age and sex in England and Wales”.
Between 9 March and 25 May 2020, there were a total of 268 deaths of social care workers, which included care workers, home carers, social workers, managers of residential care institutions, and care escorts, who had Covid-19. Rates showed there were 50.1 deaths per 100,000 men (97 deaths) and 19.1 deaths per 100,000 women (171 deaths).
Analysis highlighted that care workers and home carers accounted for 204 out of 268 deaths, or 76%.
Responding to new data from the ONS, Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “The loss of life we are seeing during the pandemic among healthcare staff is heart-breaking, and every death is a tragedy.
“Health and care staff across the country are still putting themselves at risk every day to protect the population.”
Better recording of health and care worker experience of the coronavirus crisis was needed, she warned.
“Social care needs reform from top to toe to fix the system for good”
“Across the UK, we need to see improved records of how health and care workers have experienced this pandemic which can be analysed to make more effective policies,” said Dame Donna.
“This information, including on ethnicity and health conditions, will also help UK governments assess the impact on at-risk groups, and address inequalities.”
Christina McAnea, assistant general secretary of the union Unison, said the death rate figures for care workers “reflect a tragic national scandal”.
She added: “The government has failed to protect social care during this pandemic and even now, these issues are far from being resolved.
“Care workers have financial pressures to work when they should be shielding or self-isolating. Protective kit is being used for longer than is safe and testing is still not happening.
“Social care needs reform from top to toe to fix the system for good.”
Nursing Times has created a memorial page to pay tribute to nursing staff who have lost their life during the pandemic.