Posted: Fri 14th Aug 2020

Number of coronavirus related deaths and staff testing at Wrexham Maelor Hospital released by health board for people living in or visiting the wrexham area

There have been thirteen coronavirus related deaths at Wrexham Maelor Hospital since the start of the month, with local figures being revealed for the first time.

Figures have also been released detailing progress of the testing of ‘all staff’ locally, showing that around 500 staff have been tested over the last four weeks.

There had been no current death data for Wrexham Hospital, however earlier this month a North Wales MS claimed there had been 12 deaths in five days at the Wrexham Maelor after publishing information in higher level update bulletins.

The regular reason for not giving detailed local information was to protect the identity of patients. However first death in Wales was announced by Welsh Government, and included the age, the fact the person had underlying health conditions and passed away at the local hospital.

On Tuesday we asked a now regular data related question again at the lunchtime Welsh Government briefing, querying if anonymised localised death data by date would be released for Wrexham and other hospitals in Wales.

Earlier this week also submitted Freedom of Information requests to the Health Board and Council to get the local death data, as well as requesting copies of daily updates that have been circulated as an informational update to the outbreak in the Maelor Hospital.

Today Mark Polin, chairman of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, disclosed partial information dating back to the start of this month with some extra context around the figures.

Mr Polin told us: “Analysis of data on deaths is complex, with each death being subject to a clinical review.”

“This data is for all inpatient deaths where the deceased had a recent positive coronavirus test.

“This does not necessarily mean that the patient died as a direct consequence of coronavirus.

“Nor does it mean that the deceased contracted coronavirus in hospital, and indeed many patients were admitted with coronavirus.”

“The datasets that we share weekly includes local authority level data for Covid-related deaths, separated to show those deaths in hospital and other settings, published by the Office of National Statistics.

“However we recognise that this data, due to the death registration process, is published by the ONS two weeks or so after the death.

“Deaths which are also subject to the coronial process may also be delayed from appearing in ONS data, due to a death certificate not being available until the completion of a coroner’s inquest.

“We recognise that the previous dependence upon ONS data reporting may give an incomplete picture. For this reason, I enclose data for deaths within the Maelor since 1st August, in order to provide as complete and transparent a”

“Therefore the number, which is 13 since 1st August, should be interpreted cautiously.”

“Initially we treat each case as if the coronavirus was contracted in hospital, to ensure that every opportunity for early learning and intervention is considered and implemented immediately.

“This approach does not mean that every case of coronavirus was contracted in hospital, and this assignment is revised subsequently if the more detailed clinical case review identifies that the deceased individual had coronavirus when admitted.

“We consider this to be a suitably cautious approach to ensure immediate learning and subsequent, deeper, learning.

“We are limited in terms of the detail of information we can provide; it is important that we have undertaken sufficiently detailed clinical case reviews, and that individuals cannot be inappropriately identified by the release of detailed information, particularly in advance of an appropriate discussion with families.

“However I can confirm that there are no untoward variables that have been identified, that sit outside of the expected profile of deaths related to a community outbreak, with two thirds of the deaths being in frail individuals over the age of 80, and similar numbers of men and women.”

Previously no details of confirmed cases were being released for the Wrexham Maelor, despite asking for the figures several times. At the end of July the Health Board conducted a u-turn and subsequently provided an imprecise figure, and then daily updates.

In the latest update yesterday, a spokesperson for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has said: “As of this morning there are 32 confirmed COVID-19 cases at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. We have not seen any new confirmed COVID-19 cases at the hospital in the last five days.”

On Tuesday we asked the Health Board about the claim a week ago by the First Minister that “all staff at the hospital are being tested”, requesting a progress update including figures of the overall staff numbers, how many had a completed testing process, how many were awaiting results and how many were awaiting testing.

In response Sue Green, Executive Director, Workforce and Organisational Development, told us today: “Wrexham Maelor has approximately 2,500 staff working as part of acute services such as emergency services, medicine and surgery.

“We have tested in the region of 20 per cent of these staff since the 6 July, with a number of staff tested more than once. We are continuing to test all symptomatic staff and those working in areas identified as “outbreak” areas ”

“There have been 48 members of staff who work at Wrexham Maelor Hospital who have tested positive for COVID-19 since 6th July.

“This includes staff who have experienced symptoms and staff who had not. It also includes staff who have not been in work in the period before the positive test and are not associated with the current outbreak.”

“We are committed to testing all staff if necessary in order to ensure their safety and that of our patients, and are working closely with colleague in Health and Safety and Public Health to ensure we continue to apply a risk based approach to testing in line with national guidance.”

“Having reviewed the data, we have agreed a further prioritised testing plan for asymptomatic staff whose role requires them to move from clinical area to clinical area, for example, medical staff who need to see patients across different wards.

“This plan is being developed by a multi-disciplinary team including colleagues from Public Health, Health and Safety, and Occupational Health, and is ready to go live week commencing 17 August.

“It is important that we are clear on how the results of these tests will be properly analysed and appropriate action taken as a result.

“This will inform decisions regarding further testing required. This programme has not delayed or impacted the existing testing of symptomatic staff and referrals have continued to managed as quickly and effectively as possible.”

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