NHS staff and families accounted for one in six Covid hospital cases, study reveals

The team at Glasgow University examined data from 158,445 healthcare workers in Scotland aged between 18 and 65 and 229,905 of their household members, and compared it to members of the general population.

Compared with other adults of working age, healthcare workers and their households accounted for 17 per cent of all Covid-19 related hospital admissions, even though they represent only 11 per cent of the working age population.

Those working in “front door” roles, such as paramedics and A&E department staff, were at the highest risk of hospital admission for coronavirus.

Among the healthcare workers admitted to hospital, one in eight were admitted into critical care, with a 2.5 per cent overall mortality. Of the household members admitted to hospital, one in five went to critical care, with an overall mortality of 13 per cent.

The study noted that only a very small proportion of staff – five in all of Scotland – who were working in intensive care were hospitalised with the virus. The authors suggest this is because they were wearing adequate PPE but many patient-facing staff working in other parts of the hospital system were not.

David McAllister, a public health doctor based at the University of Glasgow, said: “Healthcare workers continue to play a vital role in our response to the pandemic every day. It is vital that we understand the risks associated with Covid-19 for them and their families, and not just for their own health but also so that we can protect and plan for the workforce in the future.

“This work helps us to do that. It highlights that whilst the risk for many healthcare staff is similar to that of the general population, there is higher risk to some staff. Knowing this can help us to take action to protect those staff at greatest risk as we work through this pandemic. With other organisations across Scotland, we are working to make sure that we do that.”

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