100 Covid patients died after catching virus at Kettering General Hospital
NHS staff's battle to keep infection from spreading amid 5,000 admissions
NHS chiefs have said 100 Covid-19 patients who died at Kettering General Hospital caught the virus after they were admitted.
But KGH bosses insist a national newspaper report this week, claiming nearly a third of Covid deaths were 'hospital-acquired infections,' does not paint an accurate picture.
However, they admitted the statistics underline "challenges" faced by medics combatting the virus, particularly during the early days of the pandemic.
Figures from the hospital showed 100 people died with Covid-19 listed on their death certificate and where infections were "probably or definitely acquired in hospital" between April 1, 2020, and March 31 this year.
Northampton General Hospital says it saw another 182 similar deaths between March 1 and April 27.
NHS data shows 493 Covid-19 patients have died at KGH and 690 at NGH since March last year.
During the same period, the two hospitals dealt with more than 5,000 Covid-related admissions.
KGH medical director, Professor Andrew Chilton, said: “Throughout the pandemic both Kettering and Northampton general hospitals have followed all nationally recommended infection control measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in hospital.
“These have included robust testing for the virus when patients arrive in hospital and during their hospital stay, regular Covid tests for our own staff, designated ward pathways for patients depending on their Covid status, staff wearing appropriate PPE, rigorous hand washing and cleaning, and maximising the uptake of staff vaccination.
“Despite all of the many precautions taken against Covid-19 hospital-acquired infections have remained a challenge for all NHS hospitals both nationally and locally owing to the ease at which the virus spreads.
“The number of Covid infection in hospitals is also known to reflect the number of infections in local communities.
"Northamptonshire has experienced high Covid-19 infection rates in the local community with some areas, such as Corby, having had, at times, some of the highest rates in England.
“Similarly, as the number of local infections has fallen, so has the rate of infections in hospital."
A report in the Guardian earlier this week revealed 8,700 Covid patients who died had contracted the virus in English hospitals with an average of 27 per cent of all coronavirus-linked deaths, according to its figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
It claimed that 46.2 per cent of patients who caught Covid-19 in hospital later died and that 31.2 per cent of Covid deaths were patients who became infected after being admitted.
Prof Chilton added: “It should be noted that the figures we provided to The Guardian included patients who died of other causes, and not just Covid-19, and we also included community deaths which were not necessarily related.
"Not all other hospitals provided the same detail and so the basis on which our figures have been compared is not the same.
“We would like to reassure local people that our hospitals continue to work to national guidance on how best to reduce the risk of infections in hospital.
"We continue to make improvements as more becomes known about the virus and how it spreads.“
More than one in every 10 people who caught Covid in Northamptonshire have needed hospital treatment.
At the second peak of the pandemic earlier this year, nearly 450 coronavirus patients were occupying hospital beds at one time — around one-third of capacity.
The Guardian claims 8,747 people who died across England who died country-wide were all in hospital for another reason, such as treatment for a fall, flare-up of a serious illness, or to have an operation.
It added that 45 out of 126 acute hospital trusts refused to disclose death figures
The report accounts for people who died in hospital and after discharge. They do not distinguish between those who died of Covid, with Covid or of another condition potentially exacerbated by the virus, such as a heart attack.
A spokesman for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, which represents around 4,000 bereaved by Covid-19, said: "The mortality rate for patients and staff who were infected in hospitals is horrifying and must be stopped from happening again ahead of a potential third wave.
"The only way we can answer those questions is through a statutory inquiry, especially since the Government continually refuses to release their internal lessons learnt review.
"The Government must bring it’s inquiry forward to this summer and include an interim report that includes best practices on preventing transmission within hospitals in the autumn of this year.
"Not doing so puts more lives at risk."