Nurses have increased risk of death from COVID-19, data confirms

Office for National Statistics says mortality rate is higher for male nurses, but other factors may contribute

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Nurses are at an increased risk of dying from COVID-19 compared with the general population, new data has revealed.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that in England and Wales, there were 50.4 deaths per 100,000 male nurses and 15.3 deaths per 100,000 female nurses between 9 March and 25 May.

Data show a much higher rate of COVID-19 deaths among nurses

This compares with 19.1 deaths involving COVID-19 per 100,000 men in the general population and 9.7 deaths per 100,000 women in the general population.

Some 4,761 deaths involving COVID-19 were registered among people of working age (20 to 64), the ONS said, and nearly two thirds of these were among men.

The data reveal that people working in social care, the NHS and in occupations such as cleaning, construction work and security are more likely than the general population to die from COVID-19.

In social care, there were 50.1 deaths per 100,000 men, and 19.1 deaths per 100,000 women, the ONS said.

Occupational exposure not the only risk factor

Of the 17 occupations found to have higher rates of death involving COVID-19, 11, including nursing, had higher proportions of workers from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, the ONS said.

Commenting on the data, ONS head of health analysis and life events Ben Humberstone said: ‘Today’s analysis shows that jobs involving close proximity with others, and those where there is regular exposure to disease, have some of the highest rates of death from COVID-19.’

But he added: ‘Our findings do not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving COVID-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure.’

He also recognised that multiple other factors might contribute to someone dying from COVID-19, such as age, ethnicity and underlying health conditions.

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RCN general secretary calls for more effective policies to protect health staff

Responding to the new data, RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said the findings will help the government assess the impact of COVID-19 on at-risk groups and address inequalities.

‘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,’ she added.

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