The Covid-19 death rate among social care staff is two times higher than among the general population, while nurses have also suffered a ‘significantly higher’ death toll, statistics published today have revealed.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data found that 150 men and 319 women in England and Wales who worked in social care died with coronavirus between 9 March and 28 December last year – equating to 79 deaths per 100,000 men and 35.9 deaths per 100,000 women.
These rates were higher than those seen nationally at 31.4 and 16.8 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 among men and women respectively, with 7,961 deaths in total.
Nurses also showed significantly higher death rates with 79.1 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 males (47 deaths) and 24.5 deaths per 100,000 females (110 deaths).
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘It’s shocking to see that care and NHS staff are paying such a tragic price for doing their jobs. They can’t look after people without hands-on contact. Keeping the rest of us safe is putting these workers at greater risk.’
The union is calling on the Government to guarantee proper pay for care workers who are ill or have to stay at home. This comes after practice nurses reported not receiving full sick pay while off work because of Covid-19.
Ms McAnea added: ‘Sick or self-isolating care staff and home care workers still feel forced to attend work by shameless employers. This is because they’re being denied full wages.’
Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive of the RCN, said: ‘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.’
Across all health and care occupations, male staff had a higher rate of death involving Covid-19 than the general population (44.9 deaths per 100,000 males or 190 deaths), while the death toll among women (17.3 deaths per 100,000 females or 224 deaths) was similar to the rate among the population.
The highest Covid-19 death rates were among men in caring, leisure or other service occupations (528 deaths) and elementary occupations (699 deaths). Elementary occupations include jobs such as security guards, street service workers and agricultural labourers.
For women, the highest death rates were for jobs involving assembly lines and routine machine operations, as well as care workers and home carers.
An ONS statistician said: ‘Today’s analysis shows that jobs with regular exposure to Covid-19 and those working in close proximity to others continue to have higher COVID-19 death rates when compared with the rest of the working age population.’