The COVID-19 death toll of health and care workers continues to rise 

Health workers 17000 deaths Amnesty report

(18 March 2021) Data collated and analysed by Amnesty International paints a worrying picture about the rate of COVID-19 deaths among health and care workers in Europe, and the lack of transparency in recording and reporting these deaths. The data, to which EPSU contributed, was presented to the EPSU Health and Social Services Standing Committee last week.  

According to Amnesty’s presentation, over 4,100 deaths have been identified in 26 European countries. However, this is likely to be a huge underestimate, with under-reporting a common feature in some countries, whether due to a lack of testing, counting or transparency.  

Over 2000 of these deaths are recorded in the UK (931, including health and social care workers) and Russia (1131). Due to only partial data being available, the number of deaths is likely to be significantly higher than reported in countries including Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Ukraine and many others. Official data was only available in 9 European countries, but even then it is largely lacking in most countries except the UK. No data was found in Austria, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The full list of data is attached at the bottom of the page. 

The data presented to the HSS Standing Committee is an update on the findings in the Amnesty International report Exposed, silenced, attacked: Failures to protect health and essential workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, which was published last year. The report highlights the risks faced by health workers who deal with COVID-19 patients and how these risks have been increased by the failure of governments and health employers to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). 

EPSU will continue working alongside Amnesty International and other trade unions to ensure health and care workers are protected, to improve transparency and safe working conditions in Europe, and to accelerate the availability of vaccines for all. 

More information 

For EPSU’s response to the report: