Coronavirus leads to 70 per cent rise in deaths at Wolverhampton's New Cross Hospital

Deaths rose sharply at Wolverhampton's New Cross Hospital during March and April, as new figures showed the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis.

New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton
New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton

There was a 70 per cent rise in deaths at New Cross compared with 12 months earlier, as staff battled to fight the virus at the height of the pandemic.

A total of 309 people died at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross and Cannock Chase hospitals, in April. The figure was 181 the previous April.

The total was up from 264 in March when Covid-19 was beginning to take hold in the UK, and the region was an early hotspot.

The trust mortality figures, which covered the period April 2019 to April 2020, showed how deaths rose heading into winter before a surge when coronavirus hit.

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Medical director Dr Jonathan Odum said deaths had "risen sharply following the Covid-19 period" of March and April. Analysis showed coronavirus was responsible for the extra hospital deaths, 128 in April alone, he added.

However, he said this was not the case with deaths in the community, "indicating under-reporting of Covid-19 deaths or people delaying seeking advice and treatment".

Wolverhampton was among areas worst affected by Covid-19 when it first arrived in the UK, but the infection rate has slowed massively since lockdown.

A&E attendance has begun to recover at New Cross after a slump during lockdown which alarmed health bosses. Many people chose to stay away either due to fears of catching Covid-19 or that they would be an added burden on the under-pressure NHS.

Chief operating officer Gwen Nuttall said A&E numbers were now at about 85 per cent of normal rates. It had fallen to around half at the peak of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, trust chief executive David Loughton said he is confident the hospital would be able to cope with a second wave of coronavirus later this year, due to changes made to manage the crisis so far.

Minutes of the last board meeting said: "(Mr Loughton) believed the trust was in a better position to dealing with a second peak of Covid-19 should that occur.

"He referred to the extension to ITU (intensive care unit) that had now been completed along with the separate cardiac intensive care unit and new ward with 56 beds all capable of ventilator supply and support."

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