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The Royal College of Nursing has told the government that it must get significantly better at recording data on healthcare workers who have both contracted Covid-19 and died from it.
A failure to properly track the incidence of sickness and death from Covid-19 in health care workers means ministers are making decisions without enough information, warned the college.
“We must have better record-keeping of the number of health and care staff who have died”
It wants the Department for Health and Social Care to start collecting accurate data on health and care staff who contract the coronavirus.
Such data should include workers who have tested positive for Covid-19, have been admitted to hospital or intensive care as a result of a positive test and those who have sadly died, said the RCN.
The ongoing lack of accurate data on the deaths of nurses has fuelled criticism of the government as well as meaning it is hard to gauge the true impact of the pandemic on health and social care staff.
The role has largely been left to the media, including Nursing Times, to record the names of nurses and health workers who have died, based on information from trusts, families and other sources.
Related news on nurse deaths from Covid-19
Based on analysis by Nursing Times, nearly 70 nurses and healthcare assistants are thought to have died so far from Covid-19.
The RCN said that compiling accurate information including ethnicity and health conditions would also help the government assess the impact on at-risk groups and address inequalities.
Evidence has continued to emerge of black and minority ethnic patients and staff being at greater risk from Covid-19 and is now also starting to be backed by research.
More news on BME risk and Covid-19
In addition, the RCN said this data would help to “scrutinise” safe working environments for nursing staff and compare the level of risk facing healthcare workers versus that of the general public.
Meanwhile, it called for more consistency among the four countries of the UK when it came to collecting data on Covid-19 and its impact on the health and social care workforce.
For example, it noted that, at present, the four UK countries were taking a different approach to recording the deaths and infection rates of health and care workers.
The RCN said it was urging governments and agencies to work more closely and better align the publicly available data around Covid-19.
Its aims have been set out today in an open letter to health secretaries and ministers in the UK by Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN.
She said: “Health and care staff across the country are putting themselves at risk every day to protect the population, and the loss of any one of them is a tragedy which deserves public recognition.
“We must have better record-keeping of the number of health and care staff who have died,” said Dame Donna.
She added: “Consistency between the four nations if we are to have the robust data analysis needed for more effective policies and implementation.”
To commemorate the nursing staff who have lost their lives during the pandemic, Nursing Times has created a dedicated memorial page, including a list of names and map that are regularly updated.