How many Covid infections are acquired in hospitals? This is what the data shows

Covid-19 acquired in hospitals accounts for 14% of all admissions in one month. Credit: PA

Prof Jennifer Rogers, vice president at the Royal Statistical Society, is working with ITV News as our new Covid statistician helping us to make sense of coronavirus numbers and what they mean to you.

The number of people catching Covid-19 while in hospital is rising, with probable healthcare associated infections accounting for 14% of all coronavirus hospitalisations in the month preceding October 18.

Using data from NHS England, we can estimate the number of patients catching Covid-19 while in hospital.

We define probable healthcare-associated Covid-19 infections (HCACIs) as those patients who tested positive over seven days after their admission to hospital.

Using data from August 1 to October 18, we see that the number of HCACIs has beenincreasing since the end of August, with sharp increases seen throughout October.

On August 30, it is estimated that there were only two HCACIs across England, but on October 18 this had gone up to 143.

Furthermore, this increase in patients catching the virus whilst in hospital does not appear to be an artefact of the general increase in hospitalisations for Covid.

Using seven-day rolling averages, we calculate that at the end of August, around 10% of new hospital Covid cases (either patients admitted with Covid or patients catching the virus whilst in hospital) were HCACIs.

In mid-October, this had risen to over 15% of Covid hospitalisations.

The North West had the highest number of probable HCACIs. Credit: PA

Using the most recent month of reported data, there were a total of 12,903 estimated new hospital Covid cases, with 1,772 of these being probable HCACIs.

The North West had the highest number of new hospital cases (4,251) and the highest number of probable HCACIs (765), with HCACIs making up 18% of all Covid hospitalisations.

It’s in the South East, however, where we see the highest proportion of HCACIs, with 23% of new hospital Covid cases being from patients catching the virus whilst in hospital.

While the North East and Yorkshire has the second highest rate of new hospital Covid cases, only 7% of these are HCACIs, the lowest proportion throughout England.

Further examination of data within regions allows us to identify particular trusts which may have higher incidences of HCACIs (data available up to September 29).

Considering HCACIs that occurred between September 1 and 29, in the East of England over 80% of probable HCACIs occurred across three trusts: Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Of the 59 HCACIs that occurred in London, 24 of them were from two trusts - Barts Health NHS Trust and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

In the Midlands, over a quarter of HCACIs occurred in University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and in the North East and Yorkshire over a quarter were reportedly from Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust.

In the North West, the NHS trust with the highest number of HCACIs was Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, with 20% of all in hospital acquired infections.

And in the South West, two thirds of all HCACIs occurred across three trusts - FrimleyHealth NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust and WesternSussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

No estimated HCACIs were reported in the South West.