One in every 10 Covid-19 deaths in English hospitals in July have been at a single NHS trust in Kent, data has revealed.
Some 37 patients have died from coronavirus at the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust this month, accounting for 10.8 per cent of the 340 Covid-19 deaths across England in July so far.
The data, compiled by NHS England, has compounded fears over whether in-hospital transmission across east Kent has been one of the biggest factors in the region’s high death toll.
The East Kent Trust has seen the most coronavirus deaths in the country over the past month, followed by the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
Leicester is already known to be in the grip of dangerous outbreak and the city has been forced into a second lockdown. But there are no such rules in place in Kent.
Some 18 coronavirus patients have died at the Leicester trust in July, accounting for five per cent of all Covid-19 deaths in the past month.
Most of England’s 223 NHS trusts have seen no coronavirus deaths in the past month and coronavirus patients who have died have been spread across just a handful of trusts.
One in 10 Covid-19 hospital deaths in England in July have been at a single NHS trust in Kent Pictured: The William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, which is part of the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust
Following Leicester, the NHS trust which saw the most deaths was the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Some 13 Covid-19 patients died at the Chester trust in the past month, accounting for 3.8 per cent of all coronavirus hospital deaths in England in July.
WHERE HAVE THE MOST COVID-19 DEATHS BEEN IN JULY IN ENGLISH HOSPITALS?
1.) East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust – 37 deaths
2.) University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust – 18 deaths
3.) Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – 13 deaths
4.) Manchester University NHS Foundation and Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust – 12 deaths
5.) Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – 10 deaths
6.) East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust – 9 deaths
7.) Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust and Bedford Hospital NHS Trust – 8 deaths
8.) Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust and Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – 7 deaths each
9.) Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust and The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust – 6 deaths
10.) Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Bolton NHS Foundation Trust – 5 deaths
In April, less than one per cent of the country’s were recorded at the east Kent Trust but since then the ratio has more than doubled every month.
However, Kent’s two other hospital trusts recorded no deaths in the past month.
It is feared that in-hospital transmission has played a big role in high infection rates across the county.
Ashford has the second highest infection rate in the country, with 1,025 in every 100,000 people having the virus, according to Kent Online.
However, Kent County Council’s director of public health has said there is no need for a local lockdown in east Kent.
Andrew Scott-Clark said last week that although there have been infections in care settings, ‘widespread community transmission’ doesn’t appear to be a problem.
He added that a ‘late, second peak’ of new Covid-19 cases at the end of May happened mainly in Ashford and Thanet which is which are home to the county’s two acute hospitals.
Acute hospitals offer a level of health care in which a patient is treated for a brief but severe episode of illness.
The East Kent Hospitals Trust is currently being helped by NHS England and NHS Improvement to control the spread of coronavirus infection.
It announced last week that it was aiming to carry testing on all of its 9,000 hospital staff over five days in a bid to reduce the rate of infection.
And health bosses are still investigating why the recent number of deaths at the trust is so high.
Some have suggested that it is down to east Kent having an older population who are more likely to suffer ‘co-morbidities’ – multiple health conditions that cause their death.
However, figures from the Office for National Statistics have found that the average age of someone in Kent is 41.2 years old, just one year older than the country’s average of 40.
The highest age of residents in England is in Norfolk, where the average resident is 48 years old.
And all three of Norfolk’s NHS Trusts have seen zero coronavirus deaths in the past month.
Ashford’s MP, Conservative Damian Green, said: ‘I am glad that the testing of all staff members is now going ahead, as the number of deaths at the William Harvey has been wrongly assumed by many to mean widespread community infections in Ashford.
‘Some of the deaths in the various East Kent hospitals can be explained by co-morbidities, but I hope the [staff] testing can reveal the underlying reasons for the figures in the Trust, so that clinicians can take the appropriate action, and everyone in East Kent can be reassured.’
The chief medical officer for East Kent Hospitals, Dr Rebecca Martin, said they are working with Public Health England to ‘fully understand’ the recent deaths seen in the county.
She added: ‘We know that the population of east Kent is significantly older with more co-morbidities than the England average and that we are one of the largest trusts in the country.
Dr Martin added that infection prevention has been a ‘priority’ throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
She added that patients are advised to wear a face covering, maintain social distancing and regularly clean their hands.
And the trust is limiting the number of people on-site, checking temperatures and providing face masks and hand sanitiser in a bid to control infection rates.