• Three trusts in the Black Country report spike in covid-19 related deaths
  • Region now accounts for second highest percentage of deaths in England 
  • Royal Wolverhampton Trust reporting highest number of deaths — nine — in England
  • Sources say region’s pathology services stuggling to meet demand for testing

A second coronavirus spike appears to be emerging in the West Midlands, with one of the region’s trusts now reporting nine deaths from the illness. 

The latest mortality figures from NHS England, published this afternoon, revealed three neighbouring trusts have recorded 21 deaths between them arising from a coronavirus infection.

The Royal Wolverhampton Trust reported nine such deaths — the highest number for any trust in the country. The Dudley Group Foundation Trust recorded seven deaths — the third highest in the country — while Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust reported five deaths. Walsall Healthcare Trust also recorded one death. 

This cluster of deaths accounts for 16 per cent of the English national total. It is more than recorded in any one of the seven NHSE regions, apart from London, which has had 56 fatalities — 44 per cent of the country’s total. 

The total for the entire Midlands region is 32 deaths. The South East region ranked third with 16 deaths. The four remaining regions have had just 23 deaths between them.

Multiple sources told HSJ the cause of the spike is yet to be identified — the majority of deaths have been of elderly and at risk patients.

However, several sources said the region’s pathology services are struggling to keep up with demand for covid-19 tests, leading to delays in results being received. It is not clear whether delays in testing is linked to the spike in deaths.

University Hospitals of Birmingham FT’s Heartlands Hospital’s laboratory services are currently serving all of the Black Country providers.

Royal Wolverhampton Trust, The Dudley Group FT and Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust were all approached for comment.