More than 850 health and social care workers have died of coronavirus in England and Wales since the pandemic began, according to new data.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 883 health and social care workers have died between March and December 2020.
As the data only covers the period between March and December, and only accounts for people aged between 20 and 64 in England and Wales, the true number of deaths across the UK is likely significantly higher.
Men more at risk
Male health and social care workers were more likely to die than their female colleagues, and social care workers were generally more at risk than healthcare staff, according to the findings.
In total, 469 social care workers died, while 414 of those who died were health care workers.
Of the social care workers, the rate of death was around twice as high in men than women, at 79 deaths per 100,000 compared with 35.9 deaths per 100,000.
Among health care workers the gender disparity was greater, with 44.9 deaths per 100,000 men and 17.3 deaths per 100,000 women.
While the proximity to those with the virus is clearly an issue for those giving care to others, many believe that failures to adequately provide PPE, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic, has had a devastating impact.
‘Fearful, angry and mourning’
Speaking to medical publication, Nursing Notes, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Dame Donna Kinnair, said: “The loss of life of healthcare workers is heart-breaking and is felt profoundly by every member of the nursing community. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of all of them.
“The fact the rate of death amongst nursing staff is significantly higher than the general population highlights the absolute need to properly investigate why this is happening and give them the protection they need.
“We also need to see real-time information on the demographics including ethnicity of those who have lost their lives. We have repeatedly called for those from BAME background to be given greater protection.”
She added: “Only with quality information and proper reporting can we have confidence that the full loss of life is known, and no family feels their loved one has been forgotten. Nursing staff are fearful, angry and too many are mourning the loss of colleagues.”