Dozens of people are believed to have contracted Covid-19 in hospital at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, figures suggest.

The British Medical Association said the NHS was already overstretched before the pandemic and warned bed capacity and staffing must be increased to control the spread of the virus in hospitals.

Analysis of NHS England data shows that, between August 1 and March 21, 79 people were thought to have been infected with Covid-19 at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, while being treated in hospital for other conditions.

Around half of such transmissions were recorded in January alone, when 40 people were believed to have been infected in hospital.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust cared for 953 Covid-19 patients between August 1 and March 21 – meaning 8 per cent are thought to have contracted the disease in hospital.

This is below the 17 per cent average for all NHS trusts across the East of England.

Across England, 40,670 people are thought to have been infected with Covid-19 in hospital since August – 15 per cent of all inpatients with the disease.

Rob Harwood, chairman of the BMA consultants committee, said: "The NHS went into the current pandemic underfunded, understaffed and overstretched, and the knock-on effects – such as limited bed capacity – has unfortunately meant that controlling the spread of Covid-19 within hospitals has been more difficult than necessary.

"For some time now, the BMA has been calling for the Government to urgently address issues that would go far in ensuring the hospital environment is as safe as possible.

“NHS staff have been working tirelessly under extraordinary conditions – there’s no doubt that the spread of the virus throughout hospitals will have only increased stress levels for both patients and staff.".

An NHS spokesman said: "The ONS and other data conclusively demonstrate that the root cause of rising infection rates in hospitals is rising rates in the community.

"Since asymptomatic tests kits were made available for the first time by the Government’s Test and Trace programme in November, millions of staff have been tested helping to keep infections as low as possible, and all staff have been asked to rigorously follow infection control guidance with infection rates standing at 4.2 per cent."