Findings of the investigation into the outbreak of COVID-19 at Weston General Hospital in May 2020 and helpline details for patients and families

University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust has carried out a robust internal investigation to further understand what may have contributed to an outbreak of Coronavirus in Weston General Hospital in May 2020. This investigation is in addition to an ongoing independent system-wide Lessons Learned Review, yet to conclude.

The Trust is committed to being open about the findings of its investigation and to take any further action identified, as well as contributing to the learning of its partners and the wider NHS in the on-going management of COVID-19 during a global pandemic.

Dr William Oldfield, medical director at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, said: “First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge the impact this outbreak has had on our patients. As part of our investigation we have reviewed the clinical notes of everyone who was an inpatient at Weston General Hospital between 5-24 May who had either tested positive or became positive for COVID-19.

“During the investigation we identified 31 patients who have sadly passed away having contracted Coronavirus infection whilst they were an inpatient in the hospital. A detailed review into each of these individuals was undertaken. To our profound regret, in 18 of these patients the infection may have contributed to their death. We are deeply sorry for this.

“We are already in contact with the families of these patients and have informed them of the outcome of the review. We have apologised unreservedly and have offered them support. For each family concerned we will undertake an investigation into the specific circumstances which led up to the death of their loved one. We will invite them to help inform the investigation to ensure that any questions they have are addressed.

“We recognise that other patients and families may have concerns and we would like to provide reassurance to everyone that the safety of our patients and staff continues to be our main priority. The Trust had followed, and continues to follow, appropriate national guidance including that for COVID-19 testing, zoning patients and the correct use of Personal Protective Equipment. If, however, you would like to contact us regarding this matter you can do so by contacting the hospital on 0117 342 1053 between 9am and 4pm Monday-Friday.

“Our investigation, and independent PHE analysis, has not identified a single cause for the outbreak. There are a number of factors which may have contributed, these include; the size and layout of the hospital, the number and configuration of beds, relatively small team sizes and the need to move staff between wards to provide safe staffing levels, and the presence of both staff and patients who were asymptomatic but tested positive for COVID-19.

“A number of the recommendations from our investigation had already been completed as part of planning for the safe re-opening of Weston General Hospital in June 2020; appropriate zoning in line with national guidance; we have reduced the number of beds in the hospital to improve social distancing between patients; and we have made significant efforts to minimise staff movements across the hospital, while following the national guidance on the appropriate segregation of symptomatic and asymptomatic patients.

“In addition, we have introduced rapid turnaround Coronavirus testing which enables us to know the COVID-19 status of a patient very early on in their admission and this, in turn, better informs bed management decisions. This is especially important in the context of the relatively small size of the hospital. We have also reviewed how our data is reported to enable earlier detection of potential issues as they start to emerge and take any appropriate action.

“We will share the learning from this outbreak with our local partners and the wider NHS, in order to try to prevent, as far as possible, a similar situation occurring again.

“Finally, we recognise the hard work of all our staff who were doing everything they could to maintain high quality care in an extremely challenging situation, and the impact the outbreak, after an unprecedented few months responding to a global pandemic, has had on them.”


Notes to editors:

  • Weston General Hospital temporarily stopped accepting new patients, including into its A&E department, from 8am on Monday 25 May 2020.This was a precautionary measure in order to maintain the safety of staff and patients in response to the high number of patients with Coronavirus in the hospital. The decision to take this step was clinically-led, and supported by partners across the wider Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) health and care system. The hospital fully reopened on 18 June 2020.

A summary of the Trust’s Investigation can be found here.