£4.5m to be spent by Welsh Government to investigate every incident of Covid-19 caught in hospitals
More than £4.5m is being invested into a programme investigating hospital-acquired Covid-19 infections in Wales.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan has pledged that all incidents of Covid-19 caught in hospitals will be investigated and “lessons will be learnt” to reduce the chances of it happening to anyone else.
Wales is the only nation in the UK to record every incident of a hospital-acquired infection – also known as nosocomial infections – via the ICNET database.
The investment over two years will support health boards and the NHS Delivery Unit to take forward an important and complex programme of investigation work into cases of hospital-acquired Covid-19, the Welsh Government said.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said that throughout the pandemic the NHS in Wales had worked incredibly hard to do all it can to keep the virus out of hospitals and to protect people being cared for, often in very difficult circumstances.
“Our NHS in Wales has worked incredibly hard to keep the virus out of hospital settings, but unfortunately it has been impossible to achieve this,” she said.
“With high rates of community transmission outside of hospitals during various periods of the pandemic, it has been a monumental task to prevent Covid-19 entering our healthcare settings and spreading to those receiving care in them.
“We know that in some cases patients have experienced harm or died after catching Covid-19 in hospital settings, and we are deeply saddened by all those who have been affected by this.
“We are investing in this framework as we are determined to not only investigate into every case of hospital-acquired Covid-19 infection, but learn why it happened so we can do everything in our powers to prevent it from happening again. It will also be reviewed in two years due to the evolving nature of the pandemic.”
The Welsh Government said that measures to stop the spread of Covid in hospitals had included:
- Free PPE available to all NHS and social care services;
- Extensive guidance issued about social distancing, bed spacing, staff and patient testing, ventilation and mask wearing
- Multiple checks undertaken by health boards, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and the Health and Safety Executive.
Eluned Morgan said that Covid-19 infections aquired in hospitals accounted for around 1% of all Covid-19 infections, they said, but that some of those had subsequently died.
“These hospital-acquired infections are called nosocomial infections. The NHS in Wales has a system in place to record every incident of a hospital-acquired infection via the ICNET database – this is unique in the UK,” she said.
“If an incident does occur of hospital-acquired covid 19 which causes harm it is important that NHS Wales is open with people and their relatives and it is important that the health board undertakes an investigation to determine what has happened, what can be learned and what needs to happen next to minimise the likelihood of the incident happening to anyone else.
“As COVID-19 community transmission rates have risen to unprecedentedly high levels in recent weeks, driven by the spread of the Omicron variant, we have seen an increase in hospital admissions and an associated rise in numbers of nosocomial infections.”
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