'Serious incident' among 18 Covid outbreaks in one month at Shropshire hospitals

Eighteen coronavirus outbreaks took place at Shropshire’s hospitals last month - including one “serious incident” involving 60 people.

Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

A report from Nursing Director Hayley Flavell says 98 staff and 174 patients were affected by outbreaks across both Telford and Shrewsbury's hospitals in December, with nine outbreaks still ongoing as of December 21, when the figures in her report were finalised.

Ms Flavell said new measures, including more frequent screening of patients and separate wash facilities for those with Covid-19, have been introduced in response.

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust board will discuss her “Infection Prevention and Control Report” when it meets remotely on Thursday.

Public Health England defines an “outbreak” as a case where two or more confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases can be associated with a specific location.

Between December 1 and December 21 this happened 10 times at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and eight times at the Princess Royal Hospital.

Four more outbreaks at the trust took place earlier and were declared over by November, and nine remained open on December 21.

Three of those most recent outbreaks involved staff only, Ms Flavell said.

“The remaining six outbreaks involve both patients and staff, with the two largest in December having been on Ward 25 and Ward 26 [at the RSH],” she wrote.

“The outbreak on Ward 26 has seen the largest number of cases with 35 patients and 25 staff affected.”

Lessons

Like previous outbreaks at both the RSH and PRH, this “has also been raised as a serious incident”, Ms Flavell added.

The largest single December outbreak at the PRH involved 14 patients and six members of staff, and was still ongoing at the cut-off date, according to the report which said lessons have been learned and practices have changed following previous outbreaks.

“Previously, patients were swabbed for Covid-19 as part of their admission and at day five post-admission, as well as being swabbed prior to discharge,” Ms Flavell said.

“From December 2020, patients are now also swabbed on day three post-admission.”

Measures introduced following the most recent outbreaks include “ensuring that cleaning is undertaken twice daily and more frequently in relation to touch points” and “that bathroom facilities for positive patients and contacts are clearly segregated on the wards”.

Twice-weekly outbreak meetings have taken place throughout the autumn and winter and “the importance of social distancing, both in the clinical and non-clinical environments, is maintained”.

As of January 5, 298 people have died in the hospitals in Shrewsbury and Telford after contracting coronavirus.

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