Bedford Hospital has confirmed there have now been a total of 200 coronavirus related deaths.
The news comes as the Prime Minister announced easing of some lockdown measures, such as reducing social distancing to ‘one metre plus’ and allowing pubs to open from 4 July.
“As of 5pm on 22 June 2020 there have been 200 deaths of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 at Bedford Hospital,” said a spokesperson for Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
“The Trust is fully aware of the ongoing high COVID-19 infection rate in Bedford Borough and is supporting local authority and public health partners in investigating this local situation.”
Deep-dive investigation into Bedford’s infection rate
The investigation they refer to will be a “deep-dive” into the reasons why Bedford Borough has been experiencing a higher than average infection rate, R-Number.
Current estimates are that the average UK R-Number is between 0.7 and 0.9.
The R-Number is believed to be above one in Bedford Borough, but there are still questions around the strength of data available and the lack of data being shared.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been accused of “inaccuracies” when he said in a briefing that data was being shared, but Bedford health chiefs say they’ve not received any.
- Government hasn’t shared coronavirus data with Bedford health teams
- Coronavirus data questioned amid fears Bedford’s R-rate exceeds one
The Guardian reported similar complaints with the flow of data in other local authorities up and down the UK.
Also highlighting that Bedford is not the only area seemingly suffering from a higher-than-average coronavirus infection rate.
“It can’t be stressed enough how important this data is to us,” said Ian Hudspeth, the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire county council.
“We’ve been pressing for this since the test-and-trace system was announced,” he added.
In response, a DHSC spokesperson told The Guardian: “Local outbreaks will continue to be managed by a specialist team from the local authority or PHE… we have provided £300m to further develop local outbreak control plans.”
Bedford Borough Council was told on Saturday (20 June) their request for an investigation by Public Health England (PHE) and the Joint Biosecurity Centre had been accepted.
Speaking at the time of the announcement into the ‘deep-dive’ investigation, Cllr Louise Jackson (Labour), Portfolio holder for Public Health, Health and wellbeing, said “I hope this… will give us the data we need to tackle this virus.”
Bedford Hospital continues to test all patients
Concerns over the validity of data has also been underpinned by rumours on social media that patients at Bedford Hospital are not been tested properly, something the Trust denies.
“We undertake routine patient screening processes to test for COVID-19 in all inpatients on admission, during their time with us and again before discharge,” said their spokesperson.
They also confirmed that patients requiring planned surgery are also screened prior to admission.
Face mask are also handed out at all main entrances of Bedford Hospital if someone coming in does not already have a face covering.
Staff from all areas, not just staff in clinical zones, also wear face masks at all times while at the hospital.
To keep up to date with all of Bedford’s latest fact-checked coronavirus related news, including regular updates on confirmed cases, head to our dedicated coronavirus page.