More than 32 people died during recent Covid-19 outbreak at Wrexham Maelor Hospital
Figures have been released showing there have been 138 deaths at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital connected to coronavirus, as per the Public Health Wales statistical definition, up to the 24th of August.
The first coronavirus death in Wales was confirmed locally on the 16th of March 2020, of a person who was being treated at the Maelor Hospital. Overall in March there were less than five deaths at the hospital.
Ongoing figures were not published due to concerns that the numbers were low enough to mean people could be identified if local information was made public. In the new figures that have been released that policy is continued, with any figure less than five not precisely disclosed, but given as ‘less than five’, and therefore some totals below could be higher.
In early August a North Wales MS claimed there had been 12 deaths in five days at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital, after he published information circulated in private high level bulletins, those five days covered days in late July.
After requesting data we finally got further firm figures from the Health Board in the middle of August, stating 13 people had died at the hospital.
We requested a further update on the 25th of August, however despite the Health Minister assuring the people of North Wales information should be released in a prompt manner, no data has been forthcoming. Yesterday, prior to the FOI response arriving, we re-asked for a fifth time as well as asking “why validation is taking so long, and is there an issue being looked at specifically”, with no response.
Due to the struggle to get information we placed a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request to get death data from the 1st March 2020 to FOI submission date, 10th August 2020. The response was delayed, and was finally released yesterday.
In an attempt to standardise the data, we requested figures for deaths that relate to Covid-19 as per the definition for inclusion on the Public Health Wales public dashboard for similar health board wide information.
On the figures released a month ago the Health Board offered wider context to that data, however no further information has been forthcoming on this release. One note from the Health Board did read, “Due to the very low numbers involved we are unable to provide you with the level of detail you are seeking, as there is a potential risk of identifying the deceased. The Health Board’s duty of confidence applies even after death, and is withheld under Section 41, Information provided in confidence. “
The figures from the FOI response shows that 138 people have died at the hospital, which is 33% of all deaths on the Public Health Wales figures (420 deaths) to date for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board that covers North Wales, and 24% of the total figures ( 569 deaths) via the Office of National Statistics.
Figures released show that from the 1st of April through to May 3rd there were over 32 deaths at the hospital.
Up until the 24th of April death figures for North Wales had not been published, however 88 were reported in one day due to ‘delays in the reporting process’.
The FOI states that locally between May 4th through to May 31st there were 30 deaths at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
Between June 1st to July 12th the FOI states there were over 27 deaths.
Figures from the FOI response show that there were zero deaths at the hospital in the week ending the 19th of July.
For the three weeks from late July into early August 32 deaths are recorded.
On the 22nd of July we asked Public Health Wales for their understanding of the situation inside Wrexham Maelor Hospital, and specifically how many confirmed cases are there compared to a week prior, and clarification on if they were new Covid-19 admissions or confirmed/suspected internal transmissions. We were told there was no published breakdown by hospital.
On Thursday 23rd of July during a streamed meeting the Chair of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Mark Polin referred to ‘an increase’ of cases at the Maelor and asked for a review to be carried out on ‘in hospital transmission’, with references still being made to Rowan Foods in official statements. We also asked Welsh Government about the situation inside the Maelor, with no reply.
On July 25th the Health Board requested patients, the public and staff to wear face coverings or masks in public areas of all Health Board sites and to avoid visiting the Wrexham Maelor Hospital Emergency Department unless it is necessary.
The FOI states for the week from the 20th to 26th July there were five deaths at the hospital.
Up to the 27th of July the Health Board refused to say how many confirmed cases of coronavirus were at the hospital, with a u-turn taking place later that day to reveal there were between 60-70 confirmed cases. A day later that figure was stated as 70-80, with a Minister describing the situation in the hospital as an ‘outbreak’.
On the 31st July the Health Board stated there were 63 confirmed cases in the hospital, and asked people to “think long and hard about whether a trip to the Maelor is necessary right now”.
The FOI data states between the 27th July to 2nd August there were 16 deaths. This is the greatest number of deaths at Wrexham Maelor Hospital recorded during the pandemic so far.
On the 5th of August the First Minister said “Events at the Maelor are now well under control” and stated that “all staff at the hospital being tested”.
Between 3rd August to the 9th August the day before the FOI was placed, there are 11 deaths reported.
The full table of the data released is below, which covers past the requested information date through August.
On Friday the Health Board said in a statement, “We have seen no new outbreak cases in the last 35 days among inpatients at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. As of this morning there are currently nine recovering COVID-19 cases at the hospital.”
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