Friday, 12 June 2020

Hospital-Acquired Coronavirus

Yet another Coronavirus calamity has befallen Scottish Government's increasingly hapless health minister, Jeanne Freeman.

After the devastating news that 901 patients and 894 staff are suspected of catching the disease on 'clean' wards it seems that NHS inspectors (from Health Care Improvement Scotland) have not visited any of the hospitals or wards concerned. 

Now the health minister has rightly demanded that NHS inspectors make urgent visit to care homes which have experienced Covid-19 outbreaks while Police Scotland have also been asked to report back on care home deaths.

Yet the similar inspections have not been taking place on NHS hospitals and wards where Covid-19 outbreaks have occurred.

Coronavirus in Scotland: Inspectors fail to visit wards hit by outbreak

Jeane Freeman, the health secretary, has yet to provide a start date for widespread checks in the NHS - FRASER BREMNER/GETTY IMAGES

By Kieran Andrews - The Times

Scotland’s health watchdog has not inspected any of the hospitals linked to 1,800 coronavirus cases in “clean” wards.

It emerged this week that 901 patients and 894 doctors, nurses and medical staff had either tested positive or were suspected of having the virus after being treated in or working on non-Covid-19 wards.

When ministers initially released the data — which they have since stressed is “unvalidated” — they only confirmed there had been 125 “incidents” at hospitals and did not provide any breakdown of patient or staff numbers. Of those infected, 218 patients have died.

It is unclear whether all the cases of transmission took place in wards or a patient unwittingly arrived at hospital incubating the virus.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland, which carries out safety and cleanliness inspections across NHS hospitals and services as part of its role, confirmed it had not visted any Covid-19 outbreak wards. The watchdog said that it planned “to resume our inspections programme in the near future”.

The Care Inspectorate, which monitors care homes, laid a report at Holyrood yesterday confirming it had inspected 13 facilities in the past two weeks.

NHS Lanarkshire warned a month ago that 21 people had died after ten outbreaks in non-Covid hospital wards that saw 64 patients and 35 staff infected. It highlighted clusters of staff cases as “an area of increased concern”.

Figures from National Records of Scotland (NRS) put Scotland’s death toll from the virus at 4,000. Given the country’s population of 5.4 million, that means the death rate from the virus is 733 for every million people, the third worst in the world behind England on 767 and Belgium on 842.

According to the NRS, 47 per cent of virus-related deaths happened in care homes, with 46 per cent in hospitals.

Miles Briggs, the Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said it was “incredible” that inspectors had not visited hospitals affected by virus outbreaks. “The public will wonder what on earth is being inspected if wards with coronavirus outbreaks aren’t a priority,” he said. “If the SNP government is serious about stopping the spread of Covid-19 in hospital wards, then those which have been affected should be visited urgently.”

Alison Johnstone, the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said: “It is concerning that the NHS’s inspection regime has not been responding rapidly to known outbreaks.”

Jeane Freeman, the health secretary, has failed to provide a start date for widespread checks that researchers say may reduce infections by one third.

A spokeswoman for the watchdog said that its routine inspection programme was stopped at the Scottish government’s request at the start of the pandemic. An inspection could still take place if a “serious concern” is raised. A new inspection process that combined examining the wards and the care of older people in hospitals would be introduced “shortly”.

The pause “ enabled us to deploy our inspectors into frontline NHS roles to support the delivery of patient care” at the peak of the crisis, she added.

Hospital-Acquired Coronavirus - Staff Infections (10/06/20)

Scotland's health minister, Jeanne Freeman is under real pressure over her handling of the Coronavirus epidemic and rightly so.

Just days ago Jeanne Freeman announced there had been only 125 incidents of patients becoming infected with Covid-19 in hospital, yet this figure had to be adjusted quickly to 908 patients - 218 of whom lost their lives. 

If you ask me, it is scandalous that so many people have caught this deadly disease after being admitted to hospital for some other reason and we are now told that a similar number of hospital staff have become infected as well. 


Nearly 1000 staff may have caught coronavirus in Scottish hospitals

Health Secretary has been criticised over the figures, which she released today

By Paul Hutcheon - Daily Record

Nearly 1000 staff may have caught covid-19 in hospital, fuelling calls for Health Secretary Jeane Freeman to quit.

The figure is on top of the 901 patients in non coronavirus wards - 218 of whom died - who could also have been infected.

Tory MSP Miles Briggs said of Freeman: "She must resign.”

Freeman recently said there had been 125 “incidents” of coronovirus on non-covid wards between March 18 and June 3.

It later transpired the “incidents” included over 900 patients who had been admitted to hospital for non-covid conditions.

Addressing MSPs, Freeman also announced staff infection statistics:

“Last week we published initial unvalidated data on the number of suspected nosocomial [hospital-acquired] Covid-19 incidents.

“The challenge is that in all of the data on nosocomial infection it is not yet clear whether all of the individuals contracted the infection in the community prior to admission or within hospital.

“This unvalidated information is a compilation of reports from health boards and shows that there have been 125 Covid-19 incidents which are associated at the moment with a potential 901 patient cases, of which 870 are confirmed Covid-19 and 31 are suspected, and sadly 218 deaths.

“In addition, the same unvalidated information indicates 894 staff cases including both confirmed and suspected Covid-19.”

She added: “However this position is very far from definitive at the moment, not least due to the long incubation period of Covid-19.”

Tory MSP Miles Briggs said: “Little did we know that when the Health Secretary admitted there were 125 incidents of hospital acquired covid last week, she actually meant almost 2,000 - 901 patients and 894 staff.

“While we have long known the risks that our brave doctors and nurses undertake when they treat Covid victims, the lack of PPE within hospitals simply will not have helped.

“These revelations simply underline the importance of testing NHS staff, although the Health Secretary still hasn’t been able to give a date for when that will commence.

“What is absolutely clear is that almost 2,000 people have caught Covid from within Scottish hospitals.”

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: “Families deserve answers and an apology. They need an independent inquiry to get to the bottom of this.”

The clash comes after the Scottish Tories called for Freeman to quit.

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw accused Freeman of a “dismal performance” in office and claimed “enough is enough”.

Sturgeon has offered staunch support to her Health Secretary and attacked the Tory quit call.

Hospital-Acquired Coronavirus (08/06/20)

The latest issue to befall the Scottish Government and its health minister, Jeanne Freeman is that almost 1,000 patients appear to have contracted the Coronavirus in hospital and that over 200 subsequently died from the disease.

Now this may or may not prove to be a scandal, but the circumstances require to be investigated as they are in care homes, for example.

According to The Herald the health minister initially gave a figure of 125 Covid-19 'incidents' before explaining that an incident could involve more than just one patient which raised the number to 908.  

In any event it seems unforgivable to me that so many NHS patients should be admitted to hospital for one thing only to become infected with a deadly disease which went on to claim 218 lives. 

In theory this should be impossible, of course, because of the barrier techniques used in hospitals to prevent cross infection although that will come as no comfort to all the families who have lost a loved one.

Coronavirus: More than 200 die after first falling sick in Scottish hospitals

By Tom Gordon - The Herald

ALMOST a thousand patients have developed coronavirus - and more than 200 of them have died - after being admitted to hospital for other conditions, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

It means one in eight of all Covid deaths in hospital in Scotland involved someone who first fell sick while being treated on a non-Covid ward.

The revelation, the first clue to the scale of hospital-acquired coronavirus, raised fears the disease has been rampaging within the NHS.

All the patients are believed to have either acquired the virus from hospital staff or other patients, or unwittingly brought it with to hospital them before exhibiting symptoms.

The Scottish Government does not yet not know many patients are in each category.

LATEST UPDATE: Calls for independent inquiry into more than 200 hospital-acquired Covid-19 deaths

The patients developed coronavirus on non-Covid wards between March 18 and June 3.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman revealed on Thursday there had been 125 'incidents' of Covid on other wards, but did not define what she meant by an incident.

Nor did she say how many people were involved. The outbreak figure was widely interpreted as meaning 125 patients had fallen sick.

However after being pressed by The Herald, the Government confirmed an incident could involve more than one patient, and subsequently admitted the number of patients was 908 and that 218 of them had died of Covid-19.

It means that, on average, each of the 125 incidents affected more than seven patients.

It also means six per cent of all of Scotland's confirmed Covid cases first became ill in hospital after being admitted for a different reason, leading to 12% of all hospital deaths and 5.6% of all deaths from coronavirus.

A Government source said the figures were not released initially in case they were not sufficiently robust.

Opposition parties said the figures were shocking and attacked the Government for failing to be more open about the scale of the problem, despite Nicola Sturgeon's repeated boast that she is being as transparent as possible.

The data also raised concerns about the adequacy of infection control procedures and personal protective equipment in the NHS.

Many of the infections occurred when the NHS was transferring huge numbers of delayed discharge patients into care homes without testing them for coronavirus.

The drive to clear NHS beds in readiness for victims of the pandemic saw 921 delayed discharge patients moved to care homes in March and 510 in April.

Testing would-be residents only became mandatory after April 21.

Covid has been implicated in 3,911 deaths in Scotland up to May 31, of which 1,815 were in hospitals and 1,818 in care homes.

Last month whistleblowers claimed the virus spread through Glasgow's Gartnavel hospital as if it was 'a cruise ship' after patients were moved from the nearby Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to free beds and 25 elderly people died.

More than 20 ward closures occurred across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's hospitals in March and April.

READ MORE: Labour: Freeman must 'come clean' over discharging untested hospital patients into care homes

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: "It's absolutely shocking that almost 1000 people have caught Covid-19 in Scottish hospitals and the Scottish Government kept it a secret for as long as possible.

"We still don't know how many of these patients became seriously ill or died. Nicola Sturgeon and Jeane Freeman should have been upfront from the beginning.

“The whole time they’ve been telling the public to stay at home in order to protect the NHS they failed to mention that the virus was spreading through our hospitals.

“These outbreaks coincide with older people being discharged from hospitals into care homes. An urgent independent inquiry is needed.

“The Scottish Government has been too slow in providing PPE, too slow in providing testing and too slow in telling the truth.

“It’s vital that all hospital outbreaks and deaths connected to them are properly investigated by the COPFS and Police Scotland, where appropriate.”

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs added: “It’s quite clear that this announcement wasn’t a mistake it was a deliberate attempt to mislead.

“The Health Secretary announced that 125 incidents of Covid infection took place in hospital, when in reality almost a thousand patients were infected. There can be no other conclusion except the SNP simply cannot be trusted to tell the public the truth.

“Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to be fully transparent but we clearly see games being played by the Health Secretary and attempts to twist the statistics again to mislead.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “If the Government knew that these incidents involved almost seven patients per incident then they should have said so.

“This is a disappointing response from the Scottish Government to a very important issue.

“People need to have confidence their Government is being frank about how they are handling this crisis.

“The Scottish Government needs to be open and transparent with the public from now on rather than waiting to have the true figures prised out of them.”

Ms Freeman revealed the 125 outbreaks in a Holyrood written answer, saying: “In the period up to 3 June, Health Boards reported to Health Protection Scotland a total of 125 incidents involving Covid-19 cases outside the Covid-19 wards.

“Of these incidents, 120 are now classified as closed.

“Incidents are classified as closed by Health Boards when there is no evidence of continuing transmission taking into account possible contacts and the incubation period of the virus.

“Some incidents are also closed where there are sufficient isolation facilities or where Covid-19 positive patients are transferred to Covid-19 wards.

“These reports constitute incidents of suspected transmission in hospitals.

“Because of the varying incubation period of Covid-19 it will have been the case that some patients admitted have not presented with symptoms on admission but will have already acquired the virus in the community.

Responding to the accusations of secrecy, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Any deaths from COVID-19 associated with these incidents will have been included in information regularly confirmed by the Scottish Government.

"These claims are utterly unfounded. We are committed to transparency and openness while ensuring that all figures that are published have first been robustly validated to ensure accuracy.

“Work is under way to seek to establish validated data about healthcare acquired infections of Covid-19 and this will be published as soon as possible.

“Health Boards are implementing a range of measures to minimise any potential risk of coronavirus transmission in hospital, following the latest guidance from Health Protection Scotland on infection prevention and control, and PPE guidance.”