Please find attached some important updates on Weston General Hospital re-opening and a laboratory issue at Somerset Foundation Trust. Please cascade as appropriate, we are sending to our MPs separately.
- Somerset Foundation Trust
Over the past few days we have been working closely with Somerset Foundation Trust who have identified a laboratory issue where a potential number of false positive Covid-19 test results have been recorded. A full investigation is underway and the trust are contacting patients who may have been affected to offer support and re-testing. We are continuing to support the trust and will share more information as the investigation develops.
Interviews will be shown tonight on BBC Points West and ITV West Country with Dr Daniel Meron, Chief Medical Officer for Somerset NHS Foundation Trust to explain the situation and what actions have been taken to protect patients. In addition Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health will be featured on ITV West Country to provide reassuring messages to the public.
Somerset Foundation Trust have issued a statement to provide more information and reassurance:
All quotes attributable to Dr Daniel Meron, Chief Medical Officer for Somerset NHS Foundation Trust:
“The NHS is testing patients for COVID-19 when they are first admitted into a hospital as inpatients so that we can care for them appropriately and minimise the potential for COVID-19 to spread within healthcare settings.
“From around 27 May we began to see an increase in the number of inpatients at Musgrove Park Hospital who were testing positive for COVID-19 and we were working with public health colleagues to understand the cause of this.
“On Thursday 4 June one of our vigilant laboratory managers noticed an unusual increase in the number of positive test results recorded by the laboratory’s fast track machine. The laboratory moved quickly to retest on a second machine the swabs that it still held that had tested positive on the fast track analyser. This showed that it had reported some false positive results.
“The laboratory is conducting a full investigation to understand what has caused this. Early indications are that it was potentially caused by a change in the kind of swabs that were in use from 27 May, coinciding with the increase in positive test results that we recorded from that date.
“We have therefore contacted the 78 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 after their swabs were analysed on the fast track machine between 27 May and 4 June to explain to them what has happened and that it is possible that they may have been incorrectly diagnosed, to understand the impact this may have had on them, to offer them subsequent testing and to say how sorry we are.
“We have also forensically checked to see if those particular swabs were used before 27 May and we have found that a small number may have been. Therefore, as a precaution, we are in the process of contacting the 69 patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 having tested positive on the fast track machine from 7 May when the machine came into use and the 27 May.
“We understand that this issue may concern patients and families and want to publically apologise to them and thank them for being so understanding. We can also reassure them, and members of the public, that patients who test positive for COVID-19 are cared for in single rooms or in intensive care to the highest infection control standards, that we have notified the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of the incident, and that to our knowledge this machine is the only one of its kind in use in the South West.
“We are contacting everyone who is affected so please do not worry if you do not hear from us. Please continue to follow the advice you receive from your healthcare professional and the national advice to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
“Once again, our heartfelt apologies go to all those patients and their families who are affected.”
- Weston General Hospital
The actions taken by Weston General Hospital to date mean that the hospital is now in a position to begin to safely accept new patients and restart services in a carefully planned and phased way from today (10 June 2020).
The hospital is now starting to receive patients who, due to the temporary closure, were initially admitted to our neighbouring hospitals for their care and treatment. In addition, the hospital is restarting a number of clinics; patients do not need to call the hospital as they will be contacted to confirm arrangements for them to attend their appointment. Work continues to re-open A&E as soon as possible by the end of next week.