Up to 8,700 patients died within 28 days after catching Covid while in hospital for another medical problem, according to NHS data provided by the hospitals themselves. University Hospitals Birmingham is the trust which has recorded the highest number of hospital-acquired Covid infections, as well as the highest number of deaths from Covid caught in hospital. The Guardian has the story.
NHS leaders and senior doctors have long claimed hospitals have struggled to stop Covid spreading because of shortages of single rooms, a lack of personal protective equipment and an inability to test staff and patients early in the pandemic.
Now, official figures supplied by NHS trusts in England show that 32,307 people have probably or definitely contracted the disease while in hospital since March 2020 – and 8,747 of them died.
That means that almost three in 10 (27.1%) of those infected that way lost their lives within 28 days.
The Guardian obtained the data under freedom of information laws from 81 of England’s 126 acute hospital trusts.
The responses show that every trust had to grapple with what doctors call nosocomial or hospital-acquired infection. Many hospitals were unable to keep Covid-positive patients separate from those without the disease, which led to its lethal transmission.
According to the FoI responses, University Hospitals Birmingham trust had the highest number of deaths (408), followed by Nottingham University Hospitals (279) and Frimley Health (259). Nine trusts had 200 or more deaths.
However, the numbers of deaths are influenced by factors such as a hospital’s size, number of single rooms and capacity of its intensive care unit, and the makeup of its local population and level of infection among them, as well as weaknesses in infection control procedures.
At a handful of trusts, about a third of all people who died after catching Covid had become infected in hospital. They include Royal Cornwall hospitals (36%), Salisbury (35.2%) and Kettering general hospital (31.2%).
The answers provided to the Guardian reveal that the 8,747 who died were all in hospital for another reason, such as treatment for a fall, flare-up of a serious illness, or to have an operation.
The figures include people who died in hospital and after discharge. They do not distinguish between those who died of Covid, with Covid or of another condition potentially exacerbated by the virus, such as a heart attack.
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