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COVID-19: Information and equipment needed to protect nurses

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More information and PPE is required More information and PPE is required

More detailed information on how the virus is affecting nursing staff, and more protective equipment, are needed, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said.

Data published by the Office of National Statistics today, shows that 414 health care workers and 469 social care workers in England and Wales have died from COVID-19 between 9 March and 28 December 2020. The data is broken down into job roles but does not include information on other demographics, such as ethnicity. According to the RCN, improved information, including on ethnicity and health conditions, will help UK governments assess the impact on at-risk groups and address inequalities.

Read more: COVID-19: New Oxford vaccine rolled out to general practice services

‘The loss of life of health care 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,’ said RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair.

‘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.’

The RCN is also continuing to demand that all NHS staff be given a higher level of personal protective equipment as a precautionary measure to protect them against new COVID-19 strains and, last week, called on the UK government to intervene and demand an urgent review of infection prevention and control guidance.

Read more: Over 4 million people receive first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

‘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 black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to be given greater protection,’ added Dame Donna.

‘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.’

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