Whistleblower says coronavirus outbreak at Weston General Hospital could have been prevented

Credit: ITV West Country

A whistleblower says the coronavirus outbreak at Weston General Hospital could have been prevented, if the right safety measures had been followed.

The hospital shut to new patients more than a week ago after 64 reportedly tested positive for coronavirus as well as a number of staff. The Weston-super-Mare MP, John Penrose, says tests are now ongoing to see if the virus is contained in the hospital or has spread into the community.

In recent weeks it's emerged North Somerset has the highest number of new cases for the entire South West.

Reporter Max Walsh spoke to a member of staff, who wanted to remain anonymous:

In the past two weeks there have been more than 90 cases of Covid-19 confirmed in North Somerset.

The whistleblower says that "If there was a better isolation facility for staff, the outbreak [at Weston General] would have been prevented."

They also believe a staff shortage at Weston General may have exacerbated the spread of the virus:

The whistleblower says that staff looking after coronavirus patients were also looking after other patients suspected of carrying the disease.

Credit: ITV West Country

The whistleblower believes black and minority ethnic staff were put at risk because Covid-19 can disproportionately affect people from BAME communities.

The BAME staff and BAME patients having more chances of dying - the talk and the discussion had started at that time. But there were no steps taken to identify the BAME staff or you know to protect them from getting coronavirus.

Whistleblower
Credit: ITV West Country

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Many of the staff at Weston General are members of the Unison union. Lisa Youlton from Unison says more needs to be done:

The University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust says it's "continually focussed" on the safety of patients and staff. It adds there have been "significant efforts" to minimise staff movements across the hospital.

We are continuing to work with our partners to fully understand the complex and emerging situation in North Somerset and any possible patterns of COVID-19 transmission.

University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust