- Trust says it will issue leaflet to warn patients of risk of catching covid in hospital
- SASH’s covid patient numbers increased dramatically after Christmas
- Criteria for admission to hospital also raised
A trust has warned it may reach a ‘tipping point’ where it is ‘impossible’ to separate covid positive and negative patients.
Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust also revealed in papers published ahead of its Thursday board meeting that it planned to distribute a “duty of candour” leaflet for patients, warning them of the risk of contracting covid in hospital.
The papers noted covid patients at the trust increased from 80 pre-Christmas to 230 by January, filling half its beds. HSJ’s figures suggest covid patients at the trust continued to rise until around 14 January before dropping back slightly.
The report from the trust’s safety and quality committee — which met on 7 January — said: “It is becoming more difficult to separate the covid+ and covid- patients. In an increasing number of instances, patients are admitted to cold areas for non-covid treatment and without symptoms but then test positive. These patients then need to be admitted to hot areas and any contacts (including patients from the same bay) isolated.
“At some point a tipping point could be reached where it may be impossible to retain hot and cold areas.”
The paper added the criteria for admission to hospital is higher than normal, with patients only being admitted if the risks of not doing outweigh the risk of contracting covid during their stay. On the other hand, it added criteria for discharge was lower.
The document noted the trust has added intensive care unit beds in converted wards but one patient still had to be transferred to Torbay, where the nearest available ICU bed was sited. Cancer operations are continuing at an independent sector site but much elective work has been cancelled, with only urgent procedures being carried out.
The trust has already reported a number of serious incidents involving hospital-acquired covid. In one case, three patients died following an outbreak of probable or definite hospital-acquired covid on two wards. In another, a patient who had shared a bay with someone who developed covid then died from the disease.
As of 25 January, an estimated 37 per cent of SASH’s adult general and acute beds were occupied by covid positive patients, a figure which appeared to be stabilising in recent days.
Michael Wilson, chief executive of SASH, said: “We have seen unprecedented numbers of patients with covid being admitted and requiring critical care. Staff continue to pull together to provide safe care and it remains important to inform patients about the risk of infection, the things we are doing to prevent spread and how they can help while in hospital.”