Over 100 registered nurses have died of COVID-19 since March.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) confirmed that some healthcare workers have a “statistically significantly higher rates of death involving COVID-19” when compared with the general population.
With a total of 101 registered nurses deaths between 9 March and 25 May 2020, nurses were proven to have an overall elevated risk among both sexes with 50.4 deaths per 100,000 men and 15.3 deaths per 100,000 women.
Male doctors, nurses and midwives, healthcare assistants, paramedics, and porters were found to have an overall average mortality rate of 30.4 deaths per 100,000.
In contrast, women were found to have a mortality rate of 11.0 deaths per 100,000 – approximately in line with the general population.
The report concluded that “jobs involving close proximity with others, and those where there is regular exposure to disease, are most likely to be exposed to COVID-19. Examples include health care workers, though during the pandemic some of these are more likely to be using personal protective equipment (PPE).”
The results of this analysis show that occupations, such as nurses, with high potential exposure to COVID-19, also had elevated rates of death involving COVID-19.”
The ONS notes however that the “findings do not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving COVID-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure”.
A previous study also identified an increased risk to members of the Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities.
Earlier this year there were significant concerns raised over the supply of personal protective equipment – it is not known if this is a contributory factor.
Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, 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.
“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.
“This information, including on ethnicity and health conditions, will also help UK governments assess the impact on at-risk groups, and address inequalities.
The British Medical Association (BMA) says that despite the increased risk a significant number of healthcare staff are still to undertake individual risk assessments – leaving them at risk.
John Phillips, Acting GMB General Secretary, added; “These gruesome figures show why keyworkers urgently need much better protection in the workplace.