More than 70 patients have died after catching COVID-19 while in a hospital run by the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust.

Up until August 31, 72 patients have died after acquiring COVID-19 while in the care of the NHS trust, which runs Lister Hospital in Stevenage and The New QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City.

This data has been released as part of a Freedom of Information response, which also discloses 1,062 spells where patients at this NHS trust were treated for COVID-19 infections, having been admitted for reasons other than COVID-19. These patients did not necessarily contract COVID-19 in hospital.

Six required ventilation, but were eventually discharged.

Two staff members have died of COVID-19.

Resident Patrick Newman, who made the FOI request, said: "We do not expect to go in for treatment of a non-lethal complaint and for the outcome to be a premature death.

"Everybody understands it's impossible to eradicate hospital-acquired infections but, like many trusts, the East and North Herts NHS Trust was badly let down by the government over the poor supply of personal protective equipment in the first phase of the pandemic."

A Lister nurse spoke to the Comet last April about frontline staff having to work on COVID-19 positive wards without basic PPE.

As of today, the NHS trust has recorded 548 COVID-19 deaths.

Rachael Corser, chief nurse at the NHS trust, said: “Every COVID-19 death is a tragedy and our first thoughts are with the families of all those who have died from COVID-19, whatever the source of the infection.

"Our staff have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to minimise the transmission of COVID-19 by following national infection control guidelines."

NHS England says the root cause of rising infection rates in hospitals is a rising infection rate in the community, adding that hospitals consistently outperform other settings in preventing and controlling outbreaks.

The NHS trust says it maintains robust infection prevention measures and PPE usage; regular staff, patient and visitor testing, and enhanced cleaning.

Visitor restrictions also remain in place, with an online booking system for Lister Hospital’s inpatient and maternity wards.