More than 200 patients caught covid in Wigan hospitals
More than 200 people are believed to have contracted Covid-19 in Wigan’s hospitals, figures suggest.
The British Medical Association said the NHS was already overstretched before the pandemic and warned bed capacity and staffing must be increased to control the virus’s spread in hospitals.
Analysis of NHS England data shows that, between August 1 and March 21, 222 people were thought to have been infected with Covid-19 at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL), while being treated in hospital for other conditions.
The highest number of such transmissions was recorded in October alone, when 78 people were believed to have been infected in hospital.
WWL cared for 1,634 Covid-19 patients between August 1 and March 21 – meaning 14 per cent are thought to have contracted the disease in hospital. This is below the 19 per cent average for all NHS acute trusts across the North West.
Across England, 40,670 people are thought to have been infected with Covid-19 in hospital since August – 15 per cent of all inpatients with the disease.
Rob Harwood, chair of the BMA consultants committee, said: “The NHS went into the pandemic underfunded, understaffed and overstretched, and the knock-on effects – such as limited bed capacity – has unfortunately meant controlling the spread of Covid-19 within hospitals has been harder than necessary.
“The BMA has been calling for the Government to urgently address issues that would go far in ensuring the hospital environment is as safe as possible. NHS staff have been working tirelessly under extraordinary conditions – there’s no doubt that the spread of the virus throughout hospitals will have only increased stress levels for both patients and staff.”
He said many doctors reported fearing catching the virus after seeing colleagues becoming seriously ill, and that ensuring staff and patients are protected would enable the NHS to tackle the backlog created during the pandemic.
An NHS spokesman said: “The ONS and other data conclusively demonstrate that the root cause of rising infection rates in hospitals is rising rates in the community.
“Since asymptomatic tests kits were made available for the first time by the Government’s Test and Trace programme in November, millions of staff have been tested helping to keep infections as low as possible, and all staff have been asked to rigorously follow Public Health England’s infection control guidance with hospital infection rates currently standing at around 4.2 per cent.”
Rabina Tindale, Chief Nurse and Director of Infection, Prevention and Control for WWL said: “Throughout the pandemic we have worked extremely hard to keep transmission as low as possible. We have robust infection, prevention and control measures in place across WWL to maintain the highest possible standards, with appropriate PPE, physical distancing and detailed outbreak management all in place.
“Regular patient testing and increased staff testing, plus the introduction of more physical barriers between patients has helped to decrease levels of transmission.
“Our staff continue to work tirelessly to ensure the safety of patients within our hospitals, and preventing the spread of infection remains a top priority for the Trust.”
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