Inpatients at South West Acute Hospital who have tested negative for Covid-19 are still being counted as “suspected cases” by the Department of Health, The Impartial Reporter can reveal.

According to the Department of Health Daily Dashboard on Tuesday of this week there were 43 Covid-19 admissions to SWAH, with the dashboard explaining that “hospital admissions include suspected, as well as confirmed, Covid-19 patients.”

However, the Western Health and Social Care Trust’s figures were dramatically less than this. The Trust revealed that at SWAH there were three confirmed inpatient cases and two suspected inpatient cases for Covid-19 on Tuesday, a difference in 38 cases compared to what the Department was reporting.

The Impartial Reporter asked for clarification from the Department on its figures with a spokeswoman confirming that “many” patients who are counted on the dashboard “do not have Covid-19”.

The full statement from the Department spokeswoman read: “The inpatients figure refers to the number of patients who on admission have symptoms of Covid-19. For many of these patients subsequent testing has determined that they do not have Covid-19, however as they remain hospital inpatients they continue to be included in this group.”

A media briefing held on Monday by the Trust revealed the figures of Covid-19 admissions at SWAH with Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Hospitals at the WHSCT, revealing: “We do know that as of this morning there are three positive cases at South West Acute Hospital.”

A source in the Trust confirmed those figures again on Tuesday of this week and also confirmed that there were two inpatients waiting for results to return.

Page five of the Daily Dashboard presents information with regards to admissions with the heading “Covid-19 Admissions”.

The pages states that “this dashboard includes both confirmed and suspected Covid-19 admissions”. Nowhere on the page does it say that patients who have tested negative for Covid-19 are still included in the figures.

At present the Daily Dashboard states that there are 672 suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 inpatients in hospitals in Northern Ireland but how many of those then tested negative is unclear