One in six people admitted to a Kent Acute NHS Trust hospital without Covid, became infected in hospital.

Updated 13/02/21 @11:54am

The rate of Hospital Acquired Covid – technically known as “nosocomial” infections – across all four Kent acute NHS Trust mirrors that of what is happening across England.

The percentage for those catching Hospital Acquired Covid in Kent acute NHS Trusts between Aug 2020 and Jan 2021 was 15.82%. Nationally the figure was slightly higher at 15.91%.

Approximately one in six people admitted to a Kent acute NHS Trust hospital between August & Jan 2021 without Covid, either probably (tested after 8 days) or definitely (tested after 15 days) became infected in hospital. This is holds true  for all other English Trusts as well. For Kent this means 1,195 people, became infected after being admitted without Covid. Across England 35,175 people became infected.

There is no public data on how many patients who became infected with Hospital Acquired Covid subsequently died.

In October the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) issued a report on the factors behind hospital acquired covid-19 infections in England last spring. We now have better access to testing and personal protective equipment (PPE). We have better knowledge from research and guidelines. But the rates of Covid infection officially classified as “hospital acquired” have yet to fall significantly.

Given Hospital Acquired Covid did not spread across Kent NHS Trusts when masks weren’t mandatory, for NHS staff, visitors and outpatients in hospitals; when Trusts were scrambling for PPE; and Best Practice for Infection Control was in its infancy, what explains it’s rise from Oct 2020 onwards? It can’t just be that it was more transmissible.

Looking at the figures for each Trust in alphabetical order, we can see how some Trusts certainly performed better than others when it came to Hospital Acquired Covid between Aug and Jan.

In Oct one in three patients who entered a Dartford & Gravesham Hospital acquired Hospital Acquired Covid This remained the case in Nov, before falling back to one in six in Dec and to one in twenty in Jan.

In Nov nearly one in four patients who went into East Kent Hospital University Foundation Trusts three main hospitals caught Hospital Acuired Covid. In Dec this fell to one in five and fell again in Jan to one in six.

In Nov one in four patients who entered a Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust caught Hospital Acquired Covid, before falling back to one in eight in Dec and staying the same in Jan 2021.

In Oct, four out of every ten patients who entered the Medway NHS Trust hospital was infected with Hospital Acquired Covid. In Nov this fell back to one in four. In Dec this fell back to one in eight and remained the same in Jan 2021.

On 12th Feb a paper prepared by Public Health England (PHE) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine regarding Hospital Acquired Covid was released.

Experts said hospital-acquired covid may have prolonged the first wave by several weeks. And up to 40 per cent of first wave Covid cases could have been caught in hospitals.

Do remember masks were not mandatory for NHS staff, visitors and outpatients until mid June 2020. Add to that NHS Staff were still desperately trying to acquire PPE for their staff, the figure of 40% becomes plausible.

Locally, East Kent Hospital University Foundation Trust levels of Hospital Acquired Covid levels, during the first phase was running at 58%. This lead the Care Quality Commission to issue a section 31 order against East Kent Hospitals NHS after inspectors visited one of its sites on 11 August.

At a national level, the authors of the paper modelled that onward transmission from people discharged from hospital led to around 50,550 new infections and warned that further infections could have been seeded into the community from healthcare workers.

The Government Office for Science said it now estimated that 20-25 per cent of people may have acquired their infection in hospital in the first wave, although it contained the same modeled numbers as the original paper.

Also on the 12th Feb, a day after we released this blog, the Daily Telegraph ran a piece on Hospital Acquired Covid, summarising the paper released by Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene.

If you need hospital treatment we urge you to seek it, as not everyone who is admitted into a Kent acute NHS Trust hospital without Covid becomes infected, the data makes that very clear.

As of the 7th Feb, 370,289 residents in Kent & Medway had been vaccinated, which is 20% of the population. This number is rising daily, as it does so, the number of people being hospitalised with Covid will fall; and as lockdown continues cases across the County will continue to fall as well.

The data makes it clear, Hospital Acquired Covid is falling in all Kent acute NHS Trusts. It will fall further as the vaccination numbers rise, new cases fall and the lock down continues.

There is a distance to go and we must run the race with perseverance.

We must not free ourselves from lockdown too early.

We need new cases to fall well below lockdown one.

We need those who are deemed vulnerable to be vaccinated before we consider loosening the reins and returning to some kind of “normality“.

And above all we need to remember: The first wealth is health.

The Shepway Vox Team

Dissent is NOT a Crime

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