NHS trust faces action over spread of virus in its hospitals

An NHS trust has become the subject of new measures over the high number of people contracting coronavirus in its hospitals.

The Care Quality Commission has issued a section 31 order against the East Kent Hospitals trust, which means it will now be subjected to closer monitoring and weekly reporting over its infection control measures.

It is thought to be the first trust to face the action.

Inspectors visited one of the sites run by the trust on August 12 after NHS data showed that for the period 30 June to 26 July, the number of people testing positive for the virus 15 days after being admitted was twice as high in east Kent as at other trusts.

The number of positive tests eight days after admission was also three times higher.

According to official guidance, a positive test after 15 days in hospital is “definitely healthcare-associated”, while a positive test after eight days is “probably healthcare-associated.”

Prof Ted Baker, the CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “As a result of serious concerns we have taken immediate enforcement action at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

“CQC inspectors visited the trust on Tuesday 12 August 2020 after concerns were raised about the standards of care and the risk to patients.

“As the trust has the right to appeal the action that we have taken, it would be inappropriate for CQC to comment further. However, we will publish our findings and action taken when the legal process allows.”

A spokesperson for the trust, which runs hospitals in Ashford, Margate, Canterbury , Dover and Folkestone, said: “Keeping our patients and staff safe is always our top priority.

“We have reviewed and are strengthening our procedures and training, overseen by an experienced director of infection prevention and control.

“We are asking our staff to always follow recommended guidance, are making further physical changes to our buildings to improve infection control and support social distancing, and have reported on this progress to the CQC, while being supported by NHS England and NHS Improvement.”

The trust is also currently under investigation following the deaths of at least 15 babies in potentially avoidable circumstances since 2011.

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