Revealed: The NHS trusts under the microscope for patients catching Covid and dying

The Telegraph can reveal the five NHS England trusts where patients who died with Covid were most likely to have caught the disease in hospital, and the trusts that refused to disclose data.

The Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust topped the list, after 213 patients who had been admitted for other illnesses “probably” or “definitely” caught Covid on its wards, accounting for a third of all the trust’s Covid deaths.

It was followed by Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, and three hospitals trusts in the North West and Midlands: Stockport, Mid Cheshire and Dudley.

Whilst some of these areas had high numbers of Covid cases in the community, driving up infection rates in hospital, the high rate of Covid deaths linked to hospital-acquired infections is likely to spark concerns.

It comes after The Telegraph disclosed on Monday that 11,600 people died after they went into hospital with other illnesses, and “probably” or “definitely” caught Covid whilst they were there.

Rosie Cooper, the Labour MP and a member of the Commons health and social care select committee, said that the “scale” of deaths following Covid infections caught in hospital “is not acceptable”.

Hospital cases lookup v2

She also joined calls for vaccinations to be made mandatory for NHS staff. She would not be drawn on the best time to impose the rule, but said: “I would like every hospital worker, every nurse, doctor [to be vaccinated]. Some people like surgeons are required to get vaccinated against hepatitis and things like that before they are allowed to operate on people, so it is a condition of some employment already, so I don’t see much difference.”

The Telegraph sent Freedom of Information requests to every NHS trust in England asking how many patients had caught Covid in their hospitals since March 2020 and how many of these patients had subsequently died.

The responses revealed that out of the 40,229 patients who caught Covid while being treated for other medical conditions, 11,688 later died.

The true scale of deaths following hospital-acquired Covid is likely to be even higher, as some hospital trusts refused to disclose recent data, and two hospital trusts – Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, and Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust – declined to disclose the data at all. 

Mid and South Essex declined to comment, but in its Freedom of Information response the trust said the data “is not validated and as such is not shared”. Southport and Ormskirk said it intended to publish it in due course.

NHS England hits back at ‘flawed’ analysis

NHS England has argued the analysis is “flawed” because the 11,688 figure includes both probable and definite cases of hospital-acquired Covid. However, the organisation has previously written to NHS trusts asking them to record the data in this way.

“Probable” cases are those where the patient first tested positive eight to 14 days after being admitted into hospital, and “definite” cases are 15 days or more after the patient was admitted.

Experts have said these strict definitions may actually result in a substantial undercounting of the problem because it is possible for a patient to have caught Covid in hospital less than eight days after they were admitted.

According to research by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 95 per cent of Covid infections have an incubation period of between 4.5 and 5.8 days, meaning that a patient who becomes infected shortly after admission and first tests positive for the virus within the first week would not even be classed as a “probable” hospital-acquired infection.

The figures also exclude patients who caught Covid in hospital and then were discharged and either readmitted or died at home.

Countess of Chester, Stockport and Mid-Cheshire trusts all said that staff had followed infection control procedures. They also said that they had high Covid rates in their local communities, which were known to push up nosocomial infections.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust and Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust did not comment on the figures.

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