According to one Whitehall source, however, frustration is growing among ministers over delays in collecting crucial data from individual NHS trusts in order to build up a national picture.

“Given this is about protecting NHS staff, you would think the results would come through a bit quicker,” the source said. “It’s not their finest hour, frankly.”

In May, NHS England said a fifth of patients with Covid-19 in some hospitals were thought to have contracted the disease while already being treated there for other illnesses. Some of the infections were passed on by hospital staff unaware they had the virus and displaying no symptoms, health bosses said.

During the pandemic, three cleaners from the same south London hospital died after contracting coronavirus. Salih Hasan and Fyngs Mullings both worked for private cleaning giant Mitie at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, while the death of a third, unnamed, cleaner at the hospital was also believed to be related to the virus.

Meanwhile, ONS data released last month showed that doctors and nurses did not have higher rates of death involving Covid-19 compared to the rate among the wider population of the same age and sex.

People working in elementary jobs faced the greatest risk. Of those, there were more security guard deaths than in any other profession at 74.0 per 100,000, or 104 deaths. The data showed that, compared with the wider rate among people of the same sex, those working in the lowest-skilled occupations had the highest rate of death.

“These data are already prompting hospitals to think differently about who might be most at risk from coronavirus,” Sir John said. “We mustn’t forget about valued NHS staff just because they’re not on the front line.”

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