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Covid-19 may have contributed to the deaths of 18 people who contracted the infection while being treated at Weston general hospital in Somerset, an internal investigation has found.
The layout of the hospital and the proximity of staff and other patients who had Covid but were asymptomatic may have been among the reasons for the 18 acquiring the virus.
Hospital bosses have apologised to the families and said changes have been made to the way the hospital operates.
The hospital temporarily stopped accepting new patients, including into its A&E department, from Monday 25 May following a Covid outbreak among patients. It fully reopened on 18 June.
As part of its investigation University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS foundation trust identified 31 patients who died having contracted Covid while they were in-patients from 5-24 May.
A detailed review of each of these cases was undertaken and it concluded that in 18 patients the infection may have contributed to their death.
Dr William Oldfield, the trust’s medical director, said: “We are deeply sorry for this. We are already in contact with the families of these patients and have informed them of the outcome of the review. We have apologised unreservedly and have offered them support.
“For each family concerned we will undertake an investigation into the specific circumstances which led up to the death of their loved one. We will invite them to help inform the investigation to ensure that any questions they have are addressed.
“We recognise that other patients and families may have concerns and we would like to provide reassurance to everyone that the safety of our patients and staff continues to be our main priority.”
The investigation, and independent Public Health England analysis, did not identify a single cause for the outbreak.
Oldfield said: “There are a number of factors which may have contributed. These include the size and layout of the hospital, the number and configuration of beds, relatively small team sizes and the need to move staff between wards to provide safe staffing levels, and the presence of both staff and patients who were asymptomatic but tested positive for Covid-19.
“A number of the recommendations from our investigation had already been completed as part of planning for the safe reopening of Weston general hospital in June 2020: appropriate zoning in line with national guidance; we have reduced the number of beds in the hospital to improve social distancing between patients; and we have made significant efforts to minimise staff movements across the hospital.
“In addition, we have introduced rapid turnaround coronavirus testing which enables us to know the Covid-19 status of a patient very early on in their admission, and this in turn better informs bed management decisions. This is especially important in the context of the relatively small size of the hospital.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Covid outbreak at Somerset hospital linked to 18 deaths | Society