ALMOST half of coronavirus patients in some NHS hospitals are likely to have caught the bug there, shocking data shows.
In the last month, there has been a doubling in the proportion of patients with the virus thought to have been infected after they were admitted to hospital.
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was “indefensible” that all hospitals are still not doing weekly testing of staff, despite the spread of the virus within hospitals.
Nationwide, around 18 per cent of hospital patients with Covid-19 are thought to have become infected after they were admitted to a ward.
This was up nine per cent in one month, NHS figures show.
Such cases are seen as “probable” infections within the hospital, as they involve those who had tested positive at least seven days after admission.
At Liverpool University Hospitals NHS foundation trust, 271 patients were diagnosed with Covid in the week ending October 25.
Of those, 27 per cent were likely to have been infected after they were admitted to hospital, figures show.
Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS trust saw 210 patients diagnosed with the virus in the same week – with 25 per cent of cases likely to involve infection after admission.
At Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS trust, and University Hospitals Dorset NHS foundation trust, more than 44 per cent of Covid cases were probably “hospital-acquired,” the figures show.
Mr Hunt urged the government not to make the mistake of failing to regularly test hospital staff.
Describing the figures as “shocking”, he said: Many people died in the first wave after picking up the infection inside a hospital or a care home.
“We seem to have learned the lessons in care homes, but are still not doing weekly testing of hospital staff.
“To make the same mistake twice would be indefensible,” he said.
The Commons health select committee has repeatedly called on ministers to introduce weekly testing of NHS staff, including those who are asymptomatic, in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty has only said that “regular” tests will be offered in areas with high rates of infection.
Eleven trusts, including Liverpool University hospitals and Pennine Acute are now offering Covid tests to staff, according to reports.
The NHS said weekly testing of “patient-facing” NHS staff was offered in areas that are considered by the government as “very high risk”.
An NHS spokesperson said: “Rising community Covid transmission increases the risk in healthcare settings, so hospitals have been asked to ensure they are accurately recording their data and are rigorously following infection prevention and control protocols, including now the introduction of asymptomatic staff testing.
“It has never been more important that everyone does what they can to reduce the risk of spreading the virus by following the Hands, Face, Space guidance.”
University Hospitals Dorset NHS foundation trust said it had begun testing on staff in high-risk areas after an outbreak was detected in Poole hospital.
Prior to that, only staff working on cancer wards were offered such tests.
CATCHING COVID IN HOSPITAL
The 10 hospitals with highest percentages of cases classed as “probable healthcare acquired Covid-19”
Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals: 44.6 per cent
University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation: 44.4 per cent
Stockport NHS Foundation: 39.7 per cent
Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation: 34.5 per cent
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation: 32.9 per cent
University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation: 28.2 per cent
Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation: 27.3 per cent
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals: 27.1 per cent
Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust: 26.7 per cent
Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust: 25.2 per cent
National average: 17.9 per cent
*Analysis limited to NHS trusts with at least 50 Covid cases in week ending October 25.
Data Source: NHS England