A report looking at the impact of the pandemic has revealed 151 patients died after contracting Covid while being treated at King’s Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).

The report published by the hospital trust said 1,761 people tested positive for Covid while at the hospital in the 12 months from March 1 last year to the end of February this year.

Of those, 389 patients “definitely or probably” caught the virus while in care at the hospital and 151 died.

The report, Our Learning from the COVID-19 Pandemic, has been compiled to look into the suspected transmissions.

It said: “The trust extends its condolences to those who lost loved ones and those who contracted COVID-19 while in our care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We recognise that it has been a very difficult time for relatives and friends of those who died, many of whom were sadly denied the opportunity to visit their loved ones due to the tightened visiting restrictions in place to maximise safety, and some never got to say their  final goodbyes when those closest to them were approaching their end of life.”

The report concludes a four-month reflective period in which the trust has spoken to each patient who definitely or likely contracted COVID-19, or next-of-kin for patients who died after contracting the virus while in the trust’s care.

A spokesman for the trust said: “QEH is committed to getting it right for patients and their families and implementing the important learning from this report.

“The trust has contacted or personally met with all patients or next-of-kin to apologise to those affected and answer any questions.”

Chief Executive Caroline Shaw said: “QEH takes pride in consistently being an open and honest organisation, as demonstrated by our four-month Duty of Candour exercise.

“COVID-19 brought unprecedented challenges to QEH and the wider NHS, however, there is clear learning from our response to the pandemic and from this Duty of Candour exercise we are taking forward so we can further improve the care and experience for our future patients and their families.

“This includes strengthening communication between patients, their loved ones and those delivering care, ensuring the management of infection control is everybody’s business and continuing to follow the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety and prevent the spread of the virus, and preventing multiple and unnecessary ward moves which during the pandemic often resulted in a poor patient experience and a breakdown in communication between the hospital, patients and their families.

“We must also continue to maximise the use of digital devices and technology to further improve communication between patients and their families during stays.”

In her report to the board this week, Mrs Shaw said visiting restrictions, re-introduced last month due to rising Covid cases, remained in place and, as of September 24, the hospital had 16 Covid positive patients.

Her report also said outpatients levels had returned to near pre-Covid levels and face-to-face clinics were taking place.

Some follow-up appointments were via video or telephone, and main theatres and the day surgery unit had fully re-opened.

Her report said: “Patients needing clinically urgent and cancer surgery are prioritised and any remaining theatre capacity is being used to treat the longest waiting patients.”

Mrs Shaw also said like other hospitals, the trust “continues to experience significant operational pressures and the hospital’s bed occupancy levels remain very high”.

She added  there had also been  an increase in demand for urgent and emergency care with 20 per cent more attendances at A&E compared to pre-Covid levels.

For details see: http://www.qehkl.nhs.uk/Document/Reports/Our_learning_from_the_COVID-19_pandemic_Web.pdf