Data from the National Health Service (NHS) and acquired from The Guardian has revealed a little-known tragedy of coronavirus: There were people admitted to the hospital with other health concerns and ended up on their death beds after contracting COVID-19.
Data shows that up to 8,700 UK hospital patients died after acquiring coronavirus while in hospital. Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the event ‘remains one of the silent scandals of this pandemic, causing many thousands of avoidable deaths.’
Hospitals have struggled to stop the spread of coronavirus
The NHS claimed in the past that hospitals were unable to prevent the spread of coronavirus due to a lack of single rooms, protective gear and the inability to test staff at the beginning of the pandemic.
The NHS has now revealed that due to the factors above, 32,307 UK residents contracted coronavirus in hospital since March 2020, 8,747 of which died from the virus. Hunt, who is now the chair of the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee, revealed:
The NHS has done us all proud over the past year, but these new figures are devastating and pose challenging questions on whether the right hospital infection controls were in place.
According to the data gained by The Guardian through the freedom of information act of 81 out of 126 trusts, University Hospitals Birmingham trust was responsible for 408 of the deaths, with Nottingham University Hospitals following behind at 279. Third was Frimley Health, with 259 deaths. In total, nine trusts had more than 200 deaths from hospital-acquired COVID-19 infection.
These numbers are all influenced by the size of the hospital, population size and infection rates in each area, available supplies such as single rooms, adequate protective gear and weaknesses in the hospitals’ safety procedures.
All 8,747 people who died from hospital-acquired COVID had initially been admitted to hospital for other health reasons. Figures showed both deaths that occurred in hospital and after release, but the numbers don’t distinguish between those who died from the virus or those who died from health complications that were exacerbated by COVID.
The highest proportion of hospital-acquired COVID deaths was reported in Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh trust in Lancashire, which had 273 patients infected with coronavirus between October 2020 and March 2021. Out of those 273 people, 174 passed away, creating a mortality rate of 63.7%. Following is Gateshead health at 55.6% and Wirral University teaching hospital at 53.5%.
‘Hospitals are not to blame’
Chris Hopson, the chief executive of hospitals group NHS Providers, detailed that hospital-acquired COVID wasn’t a problem unique to the UK and had affected countries all over the world:
Trusts have worked incredibly hard to maintain a safe environment but COVID-19 brought unique challenges to every health system in the world. These include significant numbers of patients having COVID-19 without showing symptoms and, early in the pandemic, insufficient access to rapid turnaround testing.
An NHS spokesperson also spoke to the publication, highlighting that ‘hospitals were not to blame.’
The Office for National Statistics and other data conclusively demonstrate that the root cause of rising infection rates in hospitals is rising rates in the community and throughout the pandemic weekly reports from Public Health England have consistently shown that outbreaks in hospitals are less common than in other settings.