Call for answers over coronavirus outbreak at Weston hospital

Weston Hospital is closed to new patients following a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Mark

Weston Hospital is closed to new patients following a coronavirus outbreak. Picture: Mark Atherton - Credit: Archant

Weston hospital bosses have failed to answer what has caused the spike in coronavirus cases which led to its closure to new patients on Monday.

The hospital has confirmed a number of asymptomatic staff have tested positive for the virus, as well as a high number of patients.

But it has failed to reveal how many people caught the virus from inside the hospital, and how many were admitted with Covid-19.

More: Coronavirus outbreak sees Weston General Hospital closed to new patients.

This has led to concerns the cases are due to an increase in visitors to the area following the ease in lockdown restrictions.

North Somerset Council’s deputy leader Mike Bell said he is ‘really disappointed’ at the management of University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Trust (UHBW), which runs Weston General Hospital, for refusing to take media interviews.

Posting on his Facebook page, he said: “Local people are entitled to know what is happening and what is being done about it.

“The lack of answers to basic questions has not been good enough.

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“This inevitably means that speculation and concern rises due to the lack of clarity and understanding.

“I’ve been asking for improved communications and engagement for several days and I have contacted the chief executive of the trust and the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group today to ask them to do better. We need to know the facts.

“Our doctors, nurses and all NHS staff are doing an amazing job to save lives and protect people during this crisis.

“They must not be let down by leaders who are unable or unwilling to take responsibility.”

The South West has had a relatively low number of cases compared to the rest of the country, however figures in North Somerset have been rising more rapidly over the past few days, with 427 people diagnosed as of yesterday (Wednesday).

Dr William Oldfield, medical director at UHBW, said there was an ‘emerging picture of asymptomatic staff testing positive for the virus’.

More: Trust working to reopen Weston hospital’s A&E after coronavirus outbreak.

He confirmed the hospital is ‘in the process of testing all staff in clinical areas’ who may have had contact with patients.

Weston’s MP John Penrose confirmed he has been meeting with local health chiefs to find out why the outbreak occurred.

MP Penrose said: “As I hope everyone would expect, I’ve been meeting local health chiefs to get to the bottom of this.

“They say the hospital isn’t full and there are enough spare beds, but they’re worried about cross-infecting non-covid patients, so they want to stop new arrivals until they’ve deep-cleaned it and checked all the staff too.

“At the moment there’s no evidence to show if the outbreak is connected to visitors on the seafront or something completely different and, rightly, they don’t want to speculate or guess.

“They’re running tests which they hope will reveal the truth of it, so we should know more once the results come in.”

Three people have died at Weston Area Health NHS Trust so far, including hospital worker Amarante Dias.