MORE than a third of workers in Herefordshire are classed as key workers, latest data from the Official for National Statistics

The data shows 36.2 per cent of the workforce in Herefordshire hold key worker job titles, leaving the county 91st in the UK table out of 378 local authorities, topped by West Somerset where just more than 50 per cent of workers are key workers.

This figure is above the UK average of 32.8 per cent.

In March the Government has published a list of essential workers which includes all NHS and social care staff from doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers and carers to support staff and supply chain workers.

Workers such as teachers, firefighters, local and national government staff, supermarket staff, police and delivery drivers are just some of the other roles included on the list.

But the figures also revealed more than 1.5 million key workers in the UK had a health condition in 2019 that would leave them clinically vulnerable to coronavirus.

ONS data revealed 15 per cent of the UK’s 10.6 million key workers last year had a health issue which could put them at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid-19.

Reported conditions included asthma, heart disease and diabetes.

The NHS said people with such health problems fall into the “moderate risk” category for coronavirus and should stay at home as much as possible.

The ONS figures – published on May 15 – show the most common health conditions reported for key workers between January and December 2019 were heart problems (6 per cent), followed by chest and breathing issues (5 per cent).

Nearly 19 per cent (48,000) of people in national and local government said they had a health condition that fell within the moderate risk category – the highest percentage of any key worker group.

Meanwhile, 50,300 of those working in health and social care had a condition in 2019 that left them at an increased risk from coronavirus.

The ONS said in its report: “In 2019, 15% of key workers were at increased risk from coronavirus because of a health condition.”

About 130,000 of key workers (1%) were aged 70 and over, while 3.4 million were aged 50 and over.

Emily Andrews, senior evidence manager for the Centre for Ageing Better charity, said more support is needed for older people as the figures show they are the “backbone” of Britain’s public services.

In a statement, she said: “They are our doctors, our nurses, our teachers, our bus drivers.

“These workers make an immeasurable contribution in normal times – and the work they do is needed more than ever as we face the challenges of the coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s never been more crucial that they are supported in their work.”

She called for more flexible working and better support to manage health conditions in the workplace.