Scottish Daily Mail
Hundreds killed by virus they caught on hospital wards
ALMOST a fifth of the Scots who died f rom Covid during the first wave of the pandemic are believed to have caught the virus in hospital.
A total of 332 victims ‘definitely’ became infected on a ward, while this was ‘probable’ in another 96 cases.
All 428 people died within 28 days of testing positive.
Another 73 deaths were of ‘indeterminate hospital onset’ – meaning it is unknown if this is where they were infected.
Under the same measurement, Scotland’s death toll by June 30 had hit 2,484, so 17 per cent of victims either contracted the virus in hospital or were likely to have done so.
The figures are from freedom of information requests and Public Health Scotland data.
Problems such as a lack of PPE dogged the NHS during the first wave of the pandemic.
But these have been resolved and frontline workers will be swabbed twice-weekly from next week. Emergency hospital admissions will be tested from next week, with this extended to all admissions next month.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Donald Cameron called the hospital infection rate ‘tragic proof of the mess the SNP made when dealing with the first wave of Covid’.
He said: ‘That almost a fifth of people who died from Covid i n the f i rst wave probably caught it in hospital – the very place they should have been safe – is shocking and heartbreaking in equal measure.
‘Although long overdue, I am glad the Scottish Government will now expand Covid testing for health workers and hospital patients. We will be keeping a very close eye on the system.’
Scottish Labour health spokesman Monica Lennon called the findings ‘extremely worrying’, adding: ‘Ministers were warned months ago to t est all hospital workers routinely to stop the virus spreading. We can’t have a situation where people who urgently need care can’t even risk going into hospital for fear of contracting Covid.
‘We need an investigation and transparent information about which hospitals have been affected and when.’
The number of patients being infected with Covid on wards rose for an eighth consecutive week i n the seven days to November 1. A total of 200 Scots definitely or likely caught coronavirus in hospitals in that week – after almost doubling in the previous seven days.
Scottish Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton warned that transmission i n hospitals ‘ risks putting people off seeking treatment’.
He said: ‘The Government made big promises around testing for healthcare workers but struggled to live up to their warm words.’
Last week, Oxford University epidemiologist Professor Carl Heneghan highlighted the problem of Covid transmission on wards.
He said: ‘ Where we’ve seen problems, it’s often mixing non-Covid patients and Covid patients, and staff taking the virus between areas.
‘We need separate entrances, separate staff working on these wards, and staff need to be quarantined when they’ve been working – no mixing.’
The Scottish Government said hospital-onset death data included cases where Covid ‘may not have been the underlying or contributory cause’.
A spokesman added: ‘ At all times our actions have been guided by the best and most up-to- date expert scientific and medical advice.
‘We’ve worked hard to ensure that infection prevention and control measures in hospital and care settings are robust.
‘We already have strong measures i n place, such as the appropriate use of PPE, extended use of masks and coverings, physical distancing and outbreak management.’
‘Heartbreaking and shocking’