True scale of toll Covid-19 has taken on our heroic Buckinghamshire and Aylesbury Vale NHS workers revealed
The British Medical Association said the NHS was already overstretched before the pandemic and warned bed capacity and staffing must be increased to control the spread of the virus in hospitals.
Analysis of NHS England data shows that, between August 1 and March 21, 149 people were thought to have been infected with Covid-19 at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, while being treated in hospital for other conditions.
The highest number of such transmissions was recorded in January alone, when 69 people were believed to have been infected in hospital.
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust cared for 1,096 Covid-19 patients between August 1 and March 21 – meaning 14% are thought to have contracted the disease in hospital.
This is below the 15% average for all NHS acute trusts across the South East.
Across England, 40,670 people are thought to have been infected with Covid-19 in hospital since August – 15% of all inpatients with the disease.
Rob Harwood, chairman of the BMA consultants committee, said: "The NHS went into the current pandemic underfunded, understaffed and overstretched, and the knock-on effects – such as limited bed capacity – has unfortunately meant that controlling the spread of Covid-19 within hospitals has been more difficult than necessary.
"For some time now, the BMA has been calling for the Government to urgently address issues that would go far in ensuring the hospital environment is as safe as possible.
“NHS staff have been working tirelessly under extraordinary conditions – there’s no doubt that the spread of the virus throughout hospitals will have only increased stress levels for both patients and staff."
He added that many doctors reported fearing catching the virus after seeing colleagues becoming seriously ill, and that ensuring staff and patients are protected would enable the NHS to tackle the backlog created during the pandemic.
An NHS spokesman said: "The ONS and other data conclusively demonstrate that the root cause of rising infection rates in hospitals is rising rates in the community.
"Since asymptomatic tests kits were made available for the first time by the Government’s Test and Trace programme in November, millions of staff have been tested helping to keep infections as low as possible, and all staff have been asked to rigorously follow Public Health England’s infection control guidance with hospital infection rates currently standing at around 4.2%."