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.
The funding will go towards supporting a framework used by health boards to report and investigate hospital-acquired infections. 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.
Throughout the pandemic the NHS in Wales has 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.
This has included rigorous infection control procedures in place in all NHS settings, including hospitals; 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; and multiple checks undertaken by health boards, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and the Health and Safety Executive.
However, despite the best efforts of healthcare staff doing their utmost to deliver care and prevent transmission of a highly infectious virus, and all these measures being in place combined with prioritised testing of healthcare workers, COVID-19 infections have been contracted in hospitals.
They account for around 1% of all COVID-19 infections. Very sadly, in some cases, some people have come to harm or died after acquiring COVID-19 in hospitals.
NHS Wales has been committed to investigating hospital-acquired COVID infections throughout the pandemic, with families affected encouraged to contribute to the “Putting Things Right” process and The Nosocomial Transmission Group set up in May 2020 to help prevent infections through learning and publishing a national framework in relation to patient safety incidents of hospital acquired COVID-19.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said:
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.
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.