On 29 March 2023, NHS Wales published a report detailing the good progress being made to investigate and learn from hospital-acquired COVID-19 in Wales. More information about the National Nosocomial COVID-19 Programme Interim Learning Report can be found here National Nosocomial COVID 19 Programme - NHS Wales
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on population health and healthcare systems worldwide. NHS Wales rapidly adapted and altered its operational focus to minimise harm as far as possible. NHS staff worked tirelessly to maintain healthcare services for those most in need. However, COVID-19 was a new and unpredictable infection which made it extremely difficult to manage.
Due to the scale and severity of the pandemic, patients who required care in hospitals and other in-patient settings faced an inevitable increased risk of acquiring COVID-19. Managing the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare settings was challenging, particularly when prevalence was so high in the community, and in hospitals, there were higher levels of seriously unwell patients, longer lengths of stay and more people in hospital beds.
The nature of the pandemic has meant that unusually high numbers of patient safety incidents of nosocomial (hospital-acquired) COVID-19 have been recorded, affecting approximately 18,000 service users/families across Wales.
In April 2022, the National Nosocomial COVID-19 Programme was established to support NHS Wales organisations in their duty to conduct investigations into patient safety incidents of nosocomial COVID-19 which occurred between March 2020 and April 2022. Healthcare-acquired infections are sometimes considered a patient safety incident, depending on how and when the infection was acquired.
The National Nosocomial COVID-19 Programme has worked with Health Boards and Trusts to create a framework to ensure NHS Wales organisations adopt as consistent an approach as possible to the investigation process, ensuring investigations are done once and done well. So far, the programme has supported NHS Wales organisations to investigate over 12,000 cases, providing some answers to loved ones, as well as capturing learning and experience.
Acknowledging the impact of COVID-19 on service users, families, carers and NHS Wales staff, the programme has adopted a learning approach that seeks not to place blame, but maximise the opportunity for learning and improvement.
In March 2023, NHS Wales published its National Nosocomial COVID-19 Programme Interim Learning Report, providing an overview of the programme and identifying some of the early learning themes emerging through the programme. A final learning report is due to be published in March 2024.
Hywel Dda University Health Board's dedicated nosocomial COVID-19 review team is working hard to progress patient safety investigations at pace. The programme extends its sincere thanks to patients, families, carers and staff for engaging in the investigation process which is providing an opportunity for reflection, learning and improvement.
Impacted patients and families will be contacted in due course as part of this review process, but we ask that they get in touch with us directly should they have any concerns they wish to raise.