JUST over 500 staff and more than 250 patients tested positive for Covid-19 in outbreaks at Shropshire’s two main hospitals last year, a report says.

Trust infection prevention and control director Hayley Flavell says all 25 outbreaks at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital and the 24 seen at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital were analysed.

She says the coronavirus pandemic was “the most significant infection prevention and control issue” in 2020-21, and adds that no flu outbreaks took place at the hospitals despite fewer staff getting their annual vaccination than the previous year.

Her annual report will be discussed by the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust board when it meets remotely on Thursday, June 10.

Public Health England defines an “outbreak” as an occasion when two or more confirmed or suspected cases can be associated with a specific location.

Statistics in Mrs Flavell’s report say 314 patients and 175 staff cases were identified as part of outbreaks at the RSH, with the largest involving 37 patients and 27 staff in December on a ward that specialises in urology and vascular surgery.

The largest PRH outbreak involved 50 patients and five staff members on a respiratory ward in the same month.

“We owe a huge debt of thanks to the microbiology department who worked long hours and overcame many obstacles to rapidly introduce and accelerate testing for Covid-19,” Mrs Flavell continues.

“The Covid-19 vaccination programme commenced in December 2020.

“All 6,626 front-line staff in the trust were offered a Covid-19 vaccination. By the end of March 2021, 82 per cent had received at least one dose.”

Mrs Flavell’s report also summarises outbreaks of other diseases.

“The UK saw an extremely low number of influenza cases during this winter,” she writes.

“SaTH has no outbreaks caused by influenza.”

The equivalent report last year said “the UK saw a significant number of influenza cases” during winter 2019-20.