Health directors at Weston General Hospital have apologised after an internal investigation revealed hospital-acquired coronavirus infection may have contributed to the deaths of 18 patients.
An outbreak hit the hospital in May, forcing it to close to new admissions.
A report by the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust said it was a “matter of regret”.
“We apologise unreservedly,” said medical director Dr William Oldfield this week.
At one stage, as many as 6% of 1,700 staff were found to be infected and asymptomatic.
Weston General eventually reopened to new patients in June.
The internal investigation identified a total of 31 patients who died having contracted coronavirus whilst they were an inpatient.
However, it said a single cause for the outbreak has not yet been identified.
“The size and layout of the hospital, the number and configuration of beds, small team sizes, the need to move staff between wards, and the presence of both staff and patients who were asymptomatic may have contributed,” said Dr Oldfield.
The trust says it will now work with families of the deceased patients on an investigation into each of their deaths.
Its report makes a number of recommendations, including among others: Reconfiguring wards to put beds at 2m distance from each other; Implementing rapid patient testing; Reviewing staff rotas to ensure movement of staff between COVID positive and negative areas is minimised.
“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,” said Dr Oldfield.