The number of health and social care staff who have died with Covid-19 in Wales

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More than two dozen health and social care staff in Wales have died with coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, latest figures have revealed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that between March 9 and May 25, a total of 26 of these workers lost their lives following a positive test for Covid-19 in Wales.

Some 15 of them were working in healthcare roles, such as NHS nurses and doctors, while 11 were employed in social care settings such as care homes.

Almost twice as many women (17) died as men (nine) during this period which could be attributed to the higher proportion of women working in the social care sector in particular.

Among the fatalities in Wales were nurse Gareth Roberts, who was described as an “extremely popular, fun-filled and well-liked person”, and “beautiful and kind-hearted” healthcare support worker Donna Campbell who worked at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff.

By comparison, across the same period in England the ONS states that 514 health and social care staff lost their lives after being diagnosed with coronavirus. It was an even split (257) between healthcare and social care workers, with 78 more women dying than men.



Donna Campbell died on Friday, April 10 after contracting coronavirus

Meanwhile, Public Health Wales (PHW) holds figures on the number of tests carried out on these key workers and the proportion of them that were recorded as positive.

Between March 16 and July 27, there were 1,352 positive cases of the virus (and 86,050 negatives) found among care home staff, while in all healthcare settings there were 6,380 positive cases recorded (and 23,813 negatives).

Thankfully the positivity rate has been dropping dramatically over recent weeks, with latest figures showing that only 13 care home workers and 21 heathcare staff tested positive during the week beginning July 27.

That’s quite a difference from their respective peaks. Some 1,182 positive Covid test results were returned among healthcare staff for the week beginning April 6, and when it came to care home workers the peak was 241 positives for the week beginning May 18.

The number of positive cases of Covid-19 recorded among health and care staff

Care home staff in Wales continue to be routinely tested for coronavirus every week regardless of their symptoms, with 9,266 being undertaken for the week beginning July 27. That’s the highest number of tests over a seven-day period since the outbreak began.

However, in healthcare settings such as hospitals, testing on staff is down to 605 a week according to latest weekly stats – way below the testing peak of 3,120 which was recorded for the week beginning April 20.

Opposition parties and unions representing NHS workers have repeatedly called for all NHS Wales staff in hospital settings to be regularly tested like their care home counterparts.

On Saturday, nurses from across the UK united to call for a pay rise to reflect their efforts both before and during the pandemic.

Almost 900,000 public sector workers have been given an above-inflation pay rise, including doctors, dentists and police. But nurses and other healthcare professionals were not included because they agreed a separate three-year pay deal in 2018.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Wales has backed the nurses’ call for an early and substantial pay hike.



People gather at the Senedd to call for nurses to be given a pay rise

Helen Whyley, the union’s director in Wales, said clinicians across Wales the UK were “heartbroken” following the deaths of their nursing colleagues during the pandemic.

“I am proud of how the nursing community has and is stepping up in extraordinary ways to deal with this health crisis,” she said.

“Nurses have come out of retirement, students interrupted their studies and nursing staff were redeployed from non-clinical settings, all to support the frontline in the battle against the coronavirus.  

“They have worked tirelessly during Covid-19. They have purposely avoided being around vulnerable family members and young children in order to keep them safe while they worked shifts in hospitals and in the community.

“This summer the RCN, along with other unions, have asked the UK Government to bring forward the next pay round for nurses. An earlier pay rise will go some way to demonstrate to nurses and healthcare support workers that they are valued – not just because of all they did around Covid-19 but also 24-7, 365 days a year. It unacceptable to make nurses wait another year.

“Proper recognition and pay to match it will go some way to addressing the number of unfilled nursing vacancies and will help boost the flagging economy by increasing spending power.”

A survey by Unison showed that 69% of the public think all NHS staff should get an early pay rise before the end of this year in light of coronavirus.

In response, the Welsh Government said a new deal for NHS staff in Wales would be agreed through an independent public pay review.

It said it recognised the “incredible” work done by NHS workers every day and was working with unions to ensure the “best possible” pay package for all health workers.

A spokesman added: “We remain committed to tackling poverty in Wales which is why earlier this year the health minister announced funding to top-up the pay of those Agenda for Change staff on the lower pay points to bring their pay in line with the Living Wage Foundation’s independent recommended real-wage rate from April 2020.”

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that social care workers in Wales will pay tax on their £500 coronavirus bonus.

First Minister Drakeford told more than 64,000 social care workers in May that they would get a cash bonus of £500 at a cost of £32.2m.

The Welsh Government said it was introduced to “recognise and reward the hard work and commitment of social care staff who have provided essential care” during the pandemic.

But despite ministers arguing that these workers should be given the full amount, it will be taxed via HMRC’s PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system. It means their “special payment” could be reduced to just £125 in some cases.



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