The NHS refuses to put a number on its dead workers

2 minute read


UPDATE April 14 My list of UK health workers who’ve died with Coronavirus is now at 43, all sourced from press reports. Not all of these people definitely died because they were working with Coronavirus patients. The deceased ranged in age from 23 to around 80. The next question is how many NHS workers are sick?

UPDATE April 11 Possibly picking up on reaction to Friday’s press conference, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Saturday that there were 19 NHS workers who had died from Coronavirus. He told the BBC that it’s not known if they caught the infection while at work, or elsewhere.

But later the same day the deaths of two hospital porters in an Oxford hospital were announced. The twitter account @NursingNotesUK is posting known Coronavirus deaths of NHS nurses. The information on this account brings my tally to 35 NHS workers having died from the infection although not all confirmed, and not all deaths confirmed as “illness contracted while working”.

Asked today how many frontline NHS workers have died from from COVID-19, the Head Nurse for the NHS in England, Ruth May, said she had the numbers, but wouldn’t supply them.

“We do have numbers of people that have died, whether they’re nurses, midwives, health care assistants, doctors. It would be inappropriate for me right now to go into listing them and numbering them because we haven’t got, necessarily, all of the position across England with all of the people’s families giving us the permission to talk about them.”

As plenty of people who watched today’s press conference observed on social media, it’s entirely feasible to release the number of dead as anonymised data.

A quick count from UK press reports suggest 28 NHS workers have died of Coronavirus, It’s impossible to say how close 28 is to the real figure.

In Dublin, the Irish government’s daily figures identify how many cases “are associated with healthcare workers”. As of midnight last Tuesday there were 1,765 of the 6,444 cases “associated with healthcare workers” or about one in four cases. It’s an alarming and exceptional proportion, examined weeks ago by the Irish Times.

But unpleasant as the Irish figures are, they do at least get published.