Report reveals 150 people caught coronavirus at Weston and Bristol hospitals during peak

PUBLISHED: 17:01 02 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:01 02 October 2020

An investigation found 150 patients caught coronavirus at hospitals in Weston and Bristol during height of pandemic.

An investigation found 150 patients caught coronavirus at hospitals in Weston and Bristol during height of pandemic.

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A total of 150 patients at the NHS trust which runs the BRI and Weston General Hospital caught coronavirus during their stay at the height of the pandemic – of which a third died, health chiefs have revealed.

It comes after University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Trust admitted last month as many as 18 deaths could have been the direct result of contracting Covid-19 at Weston.

Bosses launched an investigation following the outbreak at the North Somerset hospital which forced them to close its A&E to new admissions for three weeks in May.

Announcing the results of the probe in September, they said they were ‘deeply sorry’ it may have contributed to more people dying after it emerged 31 inpatients passed away between May 5 and May 24 having caught the virus in hospital.

It found 18 of those could have been a direct result of contracting Covid-19 in wards.

Now the trust’s chief executive Robert Woolley has revealed 150 inpatients across its hospitals – including Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol Children’s Hospital and Bristol Eye Hospital, as well as Weston General – ‘probably or definitely’ caught coronavirus between March 1 and July 31.

Fifty-one of these died, although he said it was not known how many succumbed to the infection or to other health problems.

Mr Woolley told a trust board meeting every patient was now being tested for Covid-19 on admission and then weekly during their stay, and as a result no one had caught the virus at Weston General since it reopened.

He said: “In response to the recommendations of our investigation into events at Weston we are now testing right across the trust.

“We are testing every patient on admission to a hospital bed – a saliva test – which gives us a rapid result.

“We understand there are limits to the accuracy involved but it is a very good indicator about how we manage the placing of that patient in our facilities.

“And we are routinely then testing and swabbing every inpatient every week so we are monitoring the status and can leap on any hint of a potential hospital transmission as soon as we detect it.

“We haven’t had a single hospital-acquired infection at Weston General since the reopening of the hospital in June as a result of those measures.”

Mr Woolley said the trust had gone ‘over and above’ national guidance for inpatient testing.

He told the remote meeting on Tuesday: “As we stand this morning there are eight confirmed inpatients in the trust with Covid-19 – three in Bristol and five in Weston.

“The issue of hospital-acquired Covid infection is one that the whole country is facing up to.

“We know in the trust since the beginning of March to the end of July there have been 150 inpatients who we think have probably or definitely caught Covid-19 while they were in hospital.

“Fifty-one of those 150 have died but of course they may not have died because they had Covid-19.

“Every hospital in the country will be looking at the extent to which patients have acquired Covid while they were an inpatient.

“It really does bring home the need to make sure that as a health and care system we have all the services in place that mean patients do not need to come to hospital unless they absolutely need hospital care.

“There have to be substitutes in place for A&E attendance, otherwise we will find that we are overwhelmed by people who may or may not have coronavirus.

“Coming to A&E is absolutely not the first thing anyone should do if they suspect they have coronavirus.

“And equally if we can support patients out of hospital rather than admitting them then that would be better not only for themselves but for the wider population and for staff.”

Mr Woolley said individual investigations into each of the 18 deaths at Weston General that may have been caused by hospital-acquired coronavirus were ongoing and that they had been ‘very open with the families’, who have been offered support and will be invited to provide input into the inquiries.

He said a hotline had been set up for any relative or patient with concerns about care at Weston during the pandemic.

“We continue to investigate hospital-acquired infections across the whole of the trust,” Mr Woolley said.

“We still have a lessons-learned review which is independent from the trust, commissioned by the outbreak control team, which will bring that system-learning in due course.

“We hope we will have that finalised in a few weeks.”


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