Covid in Scotland: Concern at rise in hospital-acquired infections

Covid in Scotland: Concern at rise in hospital-acquired infections

Concerns have been raised at a sharp rise in Covid infections likely to have been acquired in hospital.

Public Health Scotland revealed there were 180 definite or probable “hospital onset” infections in the week ending 25 October, up from 98 the previous week.

Opposition parties have called for increased testing of hospital staff.

The Scottish government said it had worked hard to deliver robust infection control and that some frontline staff were already being tested.

The most recent PHS figures for the end of October show hospital-acquired Covid had returned to levels not seen since April.

In the seven days to 25 October there were 116 definite hospital onset cases, up from 63 the previous week.

There were also 73 probably hospital onset cases, up from 34.

While the vast majority of Covid infections were acquired in the community, Scottish Labour accused the Scottish government and health officials of “playing down” the significance of the problem.

Health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “In May, Nicola Sturgeon stated the importance of Test and Protect to safeguard people from Covid-19 and to protect Scotland from a second wave.

“Instead, the Scottish government’s failure to expand Test and Protect and prevent the spread among patients and staff has contributed to Covid-19 getting out of control and millions of Scots living in lockdown again.”

The Scottish Greens called for hospital infection figures to be published weekly, and said they underlined the need to increase testing of NHS staff.

Alison Johnson, the party’s health spokeswoman, said: “It’s ridiculous that seven months after I wrote to the government with an evidenced plan for regular hospital testing we still have staff walking around hospitals unknowingly passing on the virus to their colleagues and to patients.”

Earlier this month senior doctors at Glasgow Royal Infirmary wrote a letter expressing concern at the difficulty of controlling the spread of the virus, particularly in older hospital buildings.

A Scottish government spokesperson acknowledged the increase but said transmission of Covid-19 was more likely in any closed settings, including within hospitals.

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have worked hard to ensure that infection prevention and control measures in hospital and other care settings are robust and we expect our health boards to have the highest standards,” the spokesperson said.

“We already have strong measures in place, such as the appropriate use of PPE, extended use of face masks and coverings, physical distancing and outbreak management, as well as risk assessed patient care pathways to help guide the implementation of measures for safe and effective care.

“We are also already testing frontline staff where there is clinical advice to do so and, as stated in the clinical review of our testing strategy, we intend to scale-up this up, in line with rising testing capacity, to roll-out routine testing to additional asymptomatic groups – including frontline NHS staff.”

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