Last reviewed 2 February 2021
Official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that the number of people working in frontline jobs, such as care workers, bus drivers and taxi drivers, who have passed away because of the Covid-19 is significantly higher than the rest of the working population.
Figures revealed a total 7961 deaths involving Covid-19 were registered in England and Wales in the working age population, ie those aged 20–64 years.
A total of 469 Covid-19 deaths among social care staff were registered between 9 March and 28 December 2020. Within this group, care workers and home care workers accounted for 74%, or 347 of the deaths. This breaks down to 107 deaths amongst men and 240 deaths amongst females working in caring roles.
There were 209 deaths among taxi drivers and chauffeurs, 83 deaths among bus drivers and 82 chefs also died during this period.
ONS Head of Health Analysis and Life Events Ben Humberstone 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."
The ONS analysis only considers the occupation of the deceased and does not take into account the occupations of others in the deceased person's household. The ONS said there is also a complex combination of factors that influence the risk of death, from age and ethnicity, where a person lives and who they live with, to pre-existing health conditions. The findings do not prove that the rates of death involving Covid-19 are caused by differences in occupational exposure.
Unison General Secretary Christina McAnea said the Government must guarantee proper pay for care workers who are ill or having to self-isolate. She said: “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. This unacceptable situation puts staff at risk and the people they look after. It must end.”
The union, GMB, has called for all NHS and social care workers to be given access to full PPE to prevent “thousands more” unnecessary deaths due to “structural problems that could have been fixed months ago”, such as workers still being forced to use inadequate PPE or some people attending work despite being infected because they cannot afford to self-isolate. It has also said it wanted all key workers to be prioritised for the vaccine in the next phase of the rollout.