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COVID-19: patient-facing healthcare workers face greater risk of hospital admission

The people they live with are also more vulnerable to the disease, Scottish study shows
A healthcare worker wearing mask and protective gloves examines a patient

The people they live with are also more vulnerable to the disease, Scottish study shows

Patient-facing healthcare workers in Scotland were more likely to be admitted to hospital as a result of COVID-19 in the first wave than the general population, a study suggests.

These nurses and healthcare staff, as well as the people they live with, were also more vulnerable to COVID-19 compared with other healthcare workers.

The study , published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), is based on Scottish workforce data for 158,445 healthcare workers aged 18-65 years, their household members and the wider public during the pandemic peak between 1 March and 6 June.

Study says statistics have implications for healthcare staff and their

The people they live with are also more vulnerable to the disease, Scottish study shows

A healthcare worker wearing a mask and protective gloves talks to a female patient
Picture: iStock

Patient-facing healthcare workers in Scotland were more likely to be admitted to hospital as a result of COVID-19 in the first wave than the general population, a study suggests.

These nurses and healthcare staff, as well as the people they live with, were also more vulnerable to COVID-19 compared with other healthcare workers.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), is based on Scottish workforce data for 158,445 healthcare workers aged 18-65 years, their household members and the wider public during the pandemic peak between 1 March and 6 June.

Study says statistics have implications for healthcare staff and their households

The authors found that patient-facing healthcare workers, and the people they lived with, accounted for 17% (360 out of 2,097) of hospital admissions related to COVID-19, even though they represent just 11% of the working age population.

Among healthcare workers who were admitted to hospital, one in eight received critical care treatment and six died. Of household members admitted to hospital, one in five received critical care treatment and 18 died.

Researchers said that while the overall risk of being admitted to hospital in the 18-65 age group was very low overall, the findings had implications for healthcare staff and their households.

Theresa Fyffe

After adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity and underlying health conditions, the risk of hospital admissions in non-patient-facing healthcare staff and their households was similar to that of the general population, the study showed.

Authors of study say action needed now to ‘maintain a functioning healthcare system’

In the study the authors write: ‘As the northern hemisphere enters winter and non-pharmacological measures in populations are relaxed, governments, healthcare managers and occupational health specialists need to consider how best to protect healthcare workers.

‘This is necessary to protect the healthcare workers and their families, in addition to reducing onward transmission into the community and to maintain a functioning healthcare system.’

RCN calls for further research to help protect staff

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said the study demonstrated the risks to nursing staff and others.

‘Governments across the UK must ensure that health and care staff have the protections they need as we see cases of COVID-19 increase,’ she said.

‘We echo the calls for further evaluation and research to improve the steps taken to protect health and care workers and their families.’


Read the study

Risk of hospital admission with coronavirus disease 2019 in healthcare workers and their households: nationwide linkage cohort study


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