Up to 8,700 patients died after catching Covid in hospital while being treated for another illness

By Claire Schofield
Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 9:02 am
FOI figures showed that the 8,747 people who died were all in hospital for other treatment (Photo: Getty Images)
FOI figures showed that the 8,747 people who died were all in hospital for other treatment (Photo: Getty Images)

Up to 8,700 patients died after catching Covid-19 in hospitals in England while receiving treatment for another illness, a report of NHS data has revealed.

The figures provided by NHS trusts, obtained under freedom of information (FOI) laws by The Guardian, show that a total of 32,307 people “probably or definitely” contracted coronavirus while in hospital since March 2020, with 8,747 of these later dying.

In hospital for other treatment

The newspaper received data from 81 of England’s 126 acute hospital trusts and said the FOI figures showed that the 8,747 people who died were all in hospital for other medical treatment.

This included having an operation, to receive care after a fall, or for treatment for the flare-up of a serious illness.

The data includes people who died in hospital and after being discharged, and did not distinguish between those who died from Covid, with Covid, or from another condition that could have been exacerbated by the virus, such as a heart attack.

The figures revealed that the University Hospitals Birmingham trust had the highest number of deaths, with 408 in total.

This was followed by Nottingham University Hospitals with 279 deaths and Frimley Health with 259.

A total of nine out of the 126 hospital trusts had more than 200 deaths overall.

Infected with Covid in hospital

The Guardian added that at some trusts around a third of all people who died after catching Covid-19 became infected in hospital.

This included Royal Cornwall Hospitals (36 per cent), Salisbury (35.2 per cent), and Kettering General Hospital (31.2 per cent).

It was noted that the number of deaths can be influenced by various other factors, and not just a coronavirus infection alone.

The size of a hospital, the number of single rooms available, the capacity of the intensive care unit, the level of infection among, and the make-up of, a local population, and the effectiveness of infection control procedures in place are all influential factors in the number of deaths which occurred.

In response to the findings, an NHS spokesperson told The Guardian that hospitals were not to blame, stating: “The Office for National Statistics and other data conclusively demonstrate that the root cause of rising infection rates in hospitals is rising rates in the community, and throughout the pandemic weekly reports from Public Health England have consistently shown that outbreaks in hospitals are less common than in other settings.”

Hospitals’ “robust infection control measures” included treating Covid and non-Covid patients in separate areas, and testing all inpatients on admission and twice in their first week, the spokesperson added.