Pneumonia the cause of most deaths at Shropshire hospitals
More people died after being admitted to Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust with pneumonia than any other condition, figures reveal.
New NHS data shows 505 people died after getting the infection in 2018, in which lung tissue becomes inflamed and fills with fluid.
But the rate of deaths from pneumonia at the trust's two hospitals in Shrewsbury and Telford was similar to that across the whole of the UK.
It means that of the 2,765 deaths over the year in the trust's hospitals, or up to 30 days after patients were discharged, 18 per cent were linked to a diagnosis of pneumonia.
Dr Edwin Borman, medical director at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, said: “In the UK, pneumonia affects around eight in every 1,000 adults each year. It is more widespread in autumn and winter, and sadly causes more deaths during the winter months.
“Pneumonia can affect people of any age, but it's more common – and can be more serious – in certain groups of people, such as the very young or the elderly. People in these groups are more likely to need hospital treatment if they develop pneumonia.
“Depending on a person’s health and age, pneumonia can be severe and may need to be treated in hospital because it can lead to serious complications that can be fatal. If you're experiencing severe symptoms such as rapid breathing, chest pain or confusion, it is important that you seek urgent medical attention.”
The British Lung Foundation said that between five and 11 adults in every 100,000 get pneumonia each year in the UK, with over-65s particularly vulnerable.
The picture at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust is reflected across England, where more people also died after being diagnosed with pneumonia than any other condition.
Across England, around 15 per cent of the 293,000 patients who died last year were initially diagnosed with the condition.
Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said the data confirmed "the massive stresses the health care system is under", and that it reflected an older and frailer hospital population.
Commenting on the pneumonia figures, he added: "The stress to the system is added to by the fact that this sort of illness is not one that is treated in 24 to 48 hours in the elderly, and often they will need longer times in hospital and then time recovering."
The second most common initial diagnosis for deaths at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust was septicaemia, or blood poisoning, with 215 patients dying.
Acute cerebrovascular disease - a cause of stroke - was third, with 170 deaths.
Urinary tract infections, which affect the bladder, urethra or kidneys, and heart failure were also common diagnoses.
The death rate at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust was categorised as “expected” in 2018, with the difference between the number of deaths and the total expected based on averages across England falling within the anticipated range.