A “significant” number of staff who work on a ward at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (RD&E) have tested positive for coronavirus, prompting safety concerns to be raised.
Anita Merritt www.devonlive.com
DevonLive understands that more than half of the workforce on the ward at the hospital have tested positive at the site.
The hospital trust has confirmed a “number of staff” have been diagnosed with the virus, but has refused to disclose to DevonLive how many of its staff on the ward have COVID-19, how many are self-isolating, whether the ward remains open and how many of its other hospital staff have tested positive.
The RD&E has said that rigorous contact tracing has been carried out.
It added the personal protective equipment (PPE) staff wear is effective in containing the spread of the virus.
However, a source connected to the hospital – who asked to remain anonymous – claimed that at least half the members of staff on the ward have now tested positive.
They said: “There have now been a significant number of positive cases and large numbers of staff on the ward are self-isolating. Frontline staff are not being screened routinely, and when they are tested they are not being provided with the results urgently.
“More broadly we are hearing from staff who are dissatisfied that they are working when they should be isolating. That’s my greatest concern.
“For those working at the RD&E there needs to be a duty of care with routine testing in place.
“If staff are unknowingly carrying it and being made to work then this is already out of control. The public confidence in the hospital is essential, but equally inpatients and staff are now being very much compromised.
“Once staff are under pressure and are desperately short staffed they end up cutting corners, and then it gets even worse. The UK has lost more than 500 NHS care workers during the first wave. The price is too high.”
An RD&E spokesperson said: “We take infection prevention and control extremely seriously at the RD&E and have very strong processes in place.
“We have had a number of staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have carried out rigorous contact tracing. Any staff or patients who have had contact where there might be a risk of transmission have been asked immediately to self-isolate.
“In line with national guidance, staff in clinical areas are required to wear appropriate and effective PPE at all times, and we have evidence that this is effective in preventing the spread of infection.
“Additionally, as part of the COVID-Genomics UK consortium, we are pioneering using ground-breaking genetic sequencing to help understand and control outbreaks in the region.”