Some of the highest levels of infection within hospitals are in the North-West. At Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 271 patients were diagnosed with Covid in the week ending October 25. Of those, 27 per cent were likely to have been infected after they went to hospital, the figures suggest.
Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust saw 210 patients diagnosed with Covid in the same week, with 25 per cent of cases likely to involve infection after admission. At Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, and University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust, more than 44 per cent of Covid cases were probably “hospital-acquired”, the figures show.
Mr Hunt, the chairman of the Commons health select committee, said: “These are shocking figures. Many people died in the first wave after picking up the infection inside a hospital or a care home.
“We seem to have learned the lessons in care homes, but are still not doing weekly testing of hospital staff. To make the same mistake twice would be indefensible.”
The committee has repeatedly called on ministers to introduce weekly testing of NHS staff, including those who are asymptomatic, in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
So far, the chief medical officer has only said that “regular” tests will be offered in areas with high infection rates, with 11 trusts, including Liverpool University Hospitals and Pennine Acute Hospitals, now offering them to staff.
The NHS said weekly testing of “patient-facing” NHS staff was offered in geographical areas designated by the Government as “very high risk”.
A spokesman said: “Rising community Covid transmission increases the risk in healthcare settings, so hospitals have been asked to ensure they are accurately recording their data and are rigorously following infection prevention and control protocols, including now the introduction of asymptomatic staff testing.
“It has never been more important that everyone does what they can to reduce the risk of spreading the virus by following the Hands, Face, Space guidance.”