One in six hospital patients caught Covid-19 while being treated for other illnesses, figures show 

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More than 25,000 patients have caught coronavirus in hospital since the second wave of the pandemic began in September.

One in six Covid-19 patients in NHS hospitals in England were infected while being treated for other conditions, according to internal Health Service figures.

So far this month, 5,684 Covid-positive in-patients out of 44,315 – about one in eight – were infected after being admitted for other conditions.

An intensive care consultant in the Midlands said that he took a ‘snapshot’ of all the patients in his unit on one day last month and found that 40 per cent of them had been infected in hospital.

A specialist Covid nurse treating people at home said many of her patients had contracted the virus in hospital and were re-admitted when their conditions worsened.

Susan Colborne, 52, claims Pamela Clifford would be alive today if Royal Stoke Hospital had delayed her cancer surgery

The nurse said one elderly lady, originally admitted after breaking a rib in a fall, was now critically ill and had passed the virus on to two close relatives while at home.

And a daughter has lodged an official complaint over her mother’s death. Susan Colborne, 52, claims Pamela Clifford would be alive today if Royal Stoke Hospital had delayed her cancer surgery.

The 72-year-old oesophageal cancer sufferer had health complications that put her at risk of Covid-19, Mrs Colborne said. The hospital has launched an investigation.

Sage, the Government’s scientific advisory group, highlighted the problem last month.

‘It can be clearly seen that the proportion of infections that were acquired in hospital steadily increased throughout October and November,’ its pandemic modelling sub-group noted.

More than 25,000 patients have caught coronavirus in hospital since the second wave of the pandemic began in September. Pictured: Medical staff outside Royal London Hospital in London

More than 25,000 patients have caught coronavirus in hospital since the second wave of the pandemic began in September. Pictured: Medical staff outside Royal London Hospital in London

An NHS spokesman claimed that in-hospital infections have now fallen to 7.7 per cent. He added: ‘High community infections and crowded hospitals – in some cases with over half their beds occupied with Covid patients – increases the risk, so the overriding goal has to be to bring community transmission back under control.’

Separate figures showed that the majority of coronavirus deaths are still among the elderly.

Jason Oke, from Oxford university’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, found the median age at which people had died from Covid-19 in October was 82.4.

He said this has barely changed, and now stands at 82.3 across the pandemic. The median age for all other causes of death since March is 81.4.

Figures from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre show that the age of patients needing intensive care for Covid has also increased.

The median figure has risen from 59 in the first wave to 62 for the period from September.

Dr Oke said: ‘The figures suggest that if the Government meets its target of offering a vaccine to everyone over 70 by mid-February, we should expect a huge dent in the numbers of people dying.’ The Medical Research Council also confirmed that the chances of surviving the disease have significantly improved, thanks to a wider range of treatments.

It estimates the proportion of people infected who will die has fallen from 1.3 per cent in the first wave to 0.94 per cent.

Every 30 seconds, another Covid victim is admitted

By Colin Fernandez, Science Correspondent for The Daily Mail 

A new Covid-19 patient is admitted to hospital every 30 seconds, NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens warned yesterday.

Sir Simon said the Health Service was facing the worst crisis in its history as 671 daily deaths were recorded – the deadliest Sunday of the pandemic so far.

His grim warning came as a survey of ambulance staff found many were ‘in tears’ before shifts while patients were ‘dying waiting for ambulances’.

A separate survey of frontline doctors revealed their ‘ongoing distress’ after working through the first wave.

In the past seven days, 29,228 Covid patients were admitted to hospitals.

However, in a sign that lockdown may be working, the number of daily cases fell to 38,598, down from 54,940 last Sunday.

Sir Simon Stevens also revealed earlier today that a quarter of the Covid-19 hospital admissions are people under 55

Sir Simon Stevens also revealed earlier today that a quarter of the Covid-19 hospital admissions are people under 55

In England alone, 15,000 patients have been taken into hospital with the virus since Christmas Day – equivalent to 30 full hospitals, according to Sir Simon.

He said cases were still rising in some areas and some age groups, including the over-60s, with 75 per cent more Covid patients in hospital now than at the previous peak in April.

The R number, he added, is between 1.2 and 1.3, meaning that for every ten people catching the virus it is spread to a further 12 or 13 people.

‘The facts are very clear and I’m not going to sugar-coat them,’ Sir Simon told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

‘Hospitals are under extreme pressure and staff are under extreme pressure.’

He said that infection rates, although steadying, were still too high. Meanwhile, three out of four ambulance staff are at ‘breaking point’, and are suffering low morale, a survey suggests.

The GMB union said almost two in three out of 2,000 of members surveyed said they believed their PPE should be upgraded.

Workers said patients were dying waiting for ambulances because crews are ‘stuck at hospital’ with Covid patients, as a backlog of hundreds of calls builds up.

One said: ‘We had a taxi pull up in an ambulance bay with a dead male while his wife was shouting for help.’

Another said staff were ‘frightened almost to tears’ as their shifts started.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘The safety of NHS and social care staff including paramedics has always been our top priority and we continue to work round the clock to deliver PPE that helps protect those on the front line.’

Another study found frontline doctors faced ‘ongoing distress’ after the high-pressure conditions of the first wave.

Nearly half of the 5,400 emergency, anaesthetics and intensive care professionals surveyed reported psychological distress as the first peak approached.

Trauma was detected in almost a quarter, according to the research by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the University of Bath.

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