Email to the Secretary of State on COVID-19 deaths or infection rates amongst the health and care workforce

13 May 2020

Sent via Email 

Dear Secretary of State, 

I am writing to express concern that there is still no UK wide public reporting of the number of COVID-19 deaths or infection rates amongst the health and care workforce. This is despite repeated calls by the Royal College of Nursing for this data to be made available.  

Health and care staff across the country are putting themselves at risk every day to protect the population, and the loss of any one of them is a tragedy which deserves public recognition. Accurate data is needed in order to better understand the impact on staff, scrutinise the safe working environments of all staff, and to compare the level of risk which staff are facing compared to the general population. This data is also important to be able to assess the impact upon at-risk groups and address inequalities. 

The current approach taken in each of our four nations on recording the deaths and infection rates of health and care workers is inconsistent and unclear. Consistency across all parts of the UK is required to allow robust data analysis, facilitating a better understanding of the issues leading to more effective policies and implementation. We therefore urge all relevant bodies to work more closely and better align the publicly available data around COVID-19. 

We expect to see, as a minimum, weekly public updates from each of the UK Governments of health care workers who have:

  • Tested positive for COVID-19 
  • Been admitted to hospital, after testing positive for COVID-19
  • Received intensive care, after testing positive for COVID-19
  • Died after testing positive for COVID-19 

It is now apparent that underlying health conditions, as well as age, are the two major variables for recovery from Covid-19. There is also increasing concerns that black, Asian and minority ethnic staff are facing a more significant risk of both the infection and of death, and so information about ethnicity is vital to assess trends and make recommendations for future action as necessary. 

Therefore we ask that all of this data must include, for each health and care worker:

  • Role and setting 
  • If they have been on the frontline treating patients of the virus
  • Ethnicity
  • Nationality
  • Details of any underlying health conditions 

We will continue to publicly call for all Governments in the UK to resolve this outstanding issue, until a robust, comprehensive system for data collection and public reporting is in place.
Should you have any questions or would like to set up a meeting to discuss our concerns, please contact our Public Affairs Manager at Beth.Knight-Yamamoto@rcn.org.uk who will be happy to set this up. 

Yours sincerely, 
 
Dame Donna Kinnair 
Chief Executive and General Secretary 

Page last updated - 10/07/2020