A simple act of human kindness in an NHS service sorely ended Amanda Strudwick’s life.
During her treatment at the hospital for cancer, she reached out to guide a confused elderly woman who suffered from the virus to her bed – and caught the deadly disease herself.
Her daughter Tiffany says today, “She was tested for Covid-19 when she entered and everything was clear. Then she caught the virus at the hospital that was supposed to help her.
“We think she failed with the doctors who looked after her. Why put my mother, a high-risk patient, in a room with other people knowing that if she got Covid-19, she wouldn’t survive?
Comedian Eddie Large (pictured with his wife Patsy in Portishead near Bristol) died at the age of 78 after contracting Covid-19 at Southmead Hospital in Bristol
For her family in Lincolnshire, the loss of Amanda at the height of the coronavirus crisis was devastating. His death at the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston was marked by articles in local newspapers as if it were a unique and unfortunate tragedy.
However, this seems far from the truth. Amanda, 52, who was herself a former nurse, is one of many suspected suspected of having had a coronavirus where they went for help: NHS hospitals and hospices.
In the weeks leading up to the national lockdown on March 23, after which hospitals began to separate Covid-19 patients from those with other illnesses, the deadly virus would have hit the very heart of our health care system.
The Mail has spoken to families who have lost loved ones in Covid-19 and who believe their deaths were preventable. One of those who died is Lorraine Duncan, a mother who celebrated her 48th birthday in December when she received the green light for breast cancer.
In February, just as the coronavirus reached the UK, Lorraine discovered that the cancer had returned. She was referred to St Thomas Hospital in London, where doctors told her that she had one or two years to live. It should have been precious time spent with his family.
But Lorraine, a high school mentor, was transferred for “pain management” to a South London hospice funded by the NHS. Her eldest daughter, Venicia Lloyd, 32, says it was there that she fell ill and was killed by the virus.
“She died in a few weeks, on April 20,” says Venicia.
“She got Covid-19 at the hospice. We have family members who work there. They caught him there too, and had no protective gear. My mother went to the hospice to resolve her pain and never went out.
Of course, with death comes anxiety and, in the midst of these pangs, some memories and impressions may be false.
However, we have examined the role of the NHS in this pandemic and discovered the real likelihood that our hospitals have contributed to the spread of the deadly virus in their services.
This is not to say that sick people should not go to hospitals or other NHS outlets. Quite the contrary: it is essential that they do so. As the lockdown progressed, hospitals began to isolate patients.
Today, Covid-19 wards are cut off from other wards and it is hoped that the risk of infection is minimal.
But several weeks ago, the situation was different and the first indication that our health service could be a virus-hotspot appeared in Scotland, where the NHS is the biggest employer.
Amanda Strudwick (pictured with husband Chris) was being treated for cancer when she reached out to guide a confused elderly woman who suffered from the virus and caught the deadly disease herself
Great-grandmother Margaret Rotheram was recovering from the Royal Bolton Hospital when she caught Covid-19 and died
The Glasgow Times conducted a front-page investigation on April 14, revealing that involuntary patients in half of Scotland’s 14 health boards (the equivalent of the NHS trusts in England and Wales) had contracted coronavirus in hospital for other conditions.
The newspaper urged the Scottish government to tell the public exactly how many of them had caught the virus in NHS services, revealing that nine people at the lighthouse at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital picked it up there.
There has been a resounding silence from the Scottish government, which has still not released the data requested by the newspaper.
But in the ensuing hubbub, the Acting Chief Medical Officer of Scotland, Dr Gregor Smith, said: “The virus likes institutions, and of course the hospital is an environment where, if we let’s not be careful, it can spread very, very easily. “
He added, with relevance as it turns out now: “We have to understand the lessons that have been learned from other countries … to try to fight this. “
Dr. Smith may have been referring to terrifying statistics on coronaviruses acquired by hospitals in countries that have faced the pandemic before Britain.
In a report from researchers in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic first appeared, 41% of the 138 Covid-19 patients followed up in a hospital in January caught the virus from a single man who had been admitted for abdominal pain.
There is other evidence that hospitals have become hotspots for dangerous corona infection. In Tokyo, one in five of all new cases of the virus has been linked to patients and hospital staff.
And earlier this year, one of Europe’s foremost virology experts, Professor Giorgio Palu, warned that coronavirus can spread quickly in British and European healthcare systems.
He warned: “A mistake made in Italy (where the cases started in January) was to plug hospitals with Covid and non-Covid patients.
To reduce transmissions, other European countries should keep people infected with the virus at home as much as possible. Otherwise, hospitals will clog up and become a boiling point for spread.
So has the boiling point of the hospital become a feature of the transmission here? At the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, Wales, an 80-year-old woman was the first patient in the United Kingdom to die from the virus she caught in a ward.
In the weeks before national isolation began on March 23, the deadly virus is said to have struck the very heart of our health care system. (Stock Image)
Just after pensioner Marita Edwards was admitted for routine gallbladder surgery on February 28, about half of the flagship A&E doctors and nurses tested positive for coronavirus. Three weeks later, Ms. Edwards tested positive and died the following day.
Her son Stuart Loud said of her mother’s death: “If she had not been hospitalized, she would still be alive. Obviously, there was a coronavirus infection in the hospital that cost life. “
A revealing survey by YouGov, the polling organization, released early last month, found that in March, almost half of NHS hospital staff cared for infected and uninfected patients.
The danger to non-Covid patients, the survey said, was compounded by the fact that only 14% of the 885 “patient-facing” healthcare professionals surveyed had good access to PPE.
This hidden spread of the virus in our healthcare system was explored by Spectator magazine last week.
Science journalist Matt Ridley wrote: “The horrible truth is that in many early cases the disease has probably been detected in hospitals and medical offices.
“This is where the virus came back, into the lungs of the sick; and that’s where the next person often caught him, including many healthcare workers.
“Many of them may not have realized they had it, or thought they had a mild cold. They then gave it to even more elderly patients hospitalized for other reasons, some of whom were sent back to nursing homes when the NHS made room in the wards for the expected wave of coronavirus patients.
Under the microscope: cricket legend Viv Richards, 68, answers our health quiz
Sir Viv Richards loves plantain
Can you climb the stairs?
Yes, but I don’t have a lot of steps to take. I live in Antigua, which has fantastic weather, so I’m often outside.
Pre-coronavirus, I would go for an hour walk every night, play golf three or four times a week, and swim in the sea most mornings.
Get your five a day?
Yes. I love my plantain. I like avocado, golden apple [a Caribbean fruit], kiwi, papaya, mango and pineapple.
Have you ever dieted?
No. Back in the cricket era, I was just eating things that I thought were profitable for my performance – energy foods like pasta.
I stayed away from red meat because it was very heavy to digest. Chicken would provide protein. Now I like the snapper, conch and pepper stew. [Sir Viv is 5ft 10in tall and weighs 12st 5lb]
Was anything removed?
A back tooth. I was beating backwards and was hit by a cricket ball on the left side of my face. The bullet must have come off my glove and hit my jaw.
I was left with a trembling tooth. The dentist took it out under local anesthesia. I left the space blank.
Coping with pain?
I’m trying to harden it. I have never been a pain reliever.
When I was about eight, I played in a park without shoes.
A broken bottle cut the back of my left leg and tore the Achilles tendon. I was taken to the hospital and the surgeon must have been one of the best because many people thought that I would never walk properly again.
Flying. It’s the first shake, the first little bump that makes me wonder what’s going to happen. I have taken many flights over the years and have had bad ones.
Fish oil and vitamin C for immune support and turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Tried alternative remedies?
I have had acupuncture to help with sinus infections – but the jury is still out on whether that helped.
What keeps you awake?
Nothing. My room has a view of the harbor of St John. The sea breeze is the perfect sleeping pill.
When I was playing, I always made sure I had chewing gum before I went out on the field. It made me look cool.
Have you had plastic surgery?
Plastic surgery seems plastic to me. Small scars can sometimes look good.
Do you like to live forever?
Only if all the people you value in life are there to live with you.
Sir Viv is a tourism ambassador for his native island, Antigua. See: visitantiguabarbuda.com
Significantly, at this early stage, very few people with Covid-19 were confirmed to be viral patients at the time of hospital admission.
This means, says Ridley, that many of them may have gone to hospital with another illness and then contracted the virus.
Above all, he says, the numbers don’t match. There have been “barely enough” admissions to Covid-19 to explain the high number of hospital deaths since the virus struck – unless almost everyone admitted to hospital with Covid-19 died, and that “this is not the case”.
Ridley concluded: “It is likely that the frail and elderly, whom the virus chooses as punishment, went to hospitals or clinics for other illnesses and it was there that they were infected in February and March. “
The Mail asked NHS England and Public Health England (PHE), the main pandemic organizations, how many patients died after catching the virus in an NHS hospital.
PHE referred our investigation to the NHS England, which in turn referred it to PHE. Officials from both bodies denied being responsible for collecting death figures sent by hospital trusts.
Since then, we have asked 13 health trusts in England and Wales the same question using access to information requests and we are awaiting their response.
Another perspective on this hidden crisis comes from a former environmental health official, Dr. Richard North. He was suspended from his post in Yorkshire a few years ago after leaking a “secret” report revealing poor hygiene in the kitchens of NHS hospitals.
Dr. North, now a Leeds-based author interested in the NHS, this week published a blog citing a research report on Covid patients (including medical staff) across China. It showed that 44% had caught the disease in hospitals.
If this figure of 44% were applied to our mortality rate in British hospitals, it would mean that at least 10,000 people contracted their fatal infection in hospitals. North said it could make the NHS the biggest killer in this pandemic.
It may seem inflammatory. After all, North is only speculating, and it should also be said that some people have doubts about the elements of coronavirus research emanating from China.
But families who have lost loved ones after catching Covid-19 in the hospital may be inclined to agree with him.
For example, Terry Murphy, 57, of Barry, in South Wales, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in September 2019. She had surgery on March 19 this year at Cardiff’s University Hospital of Wales, but died five weeks later. after a positive test for Covid-19.
Her son Jonathan, 28, said, “Mom was tested in the first three weeks of her hospital stay, which came back negative. Then, in mid-April, it tested positive.
“She caught Covid-19 from the hospital. We had begged the doctors to let her go home. She was in a room with other patients when she called home and said that she caught him.
An equally sad story is told by the family of the late comedian Eddie Large, who died at 78 after contracting Covid-19 at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.
Her son Ryan McGinnis said, “He suffered from heart failure and, unfortunately, at the hospital, he contracted the corona virus, that his heart was unfortunately not strong enough to fight. “
Another to be suffocated by the virus in hospital was Russell Wolton, 87, who was admitted for treatment for bronchitis and diabetes earlier this spring.
His wife Audrey said that Russell had contracted the virus three weeks after being admitted to regular service in the West Midlands.
“I have his death certificate, which lists everything he was treated for in the hospital,” she said, “and the coronavirus is written right at the bottom.”
Audrey added that when Russell tested positive, “he was taken to a Covid-19 facility and I was prevented from seeing him. But a nurse sent me a nice note saying that she was taking care of Russell and that she was with him when he died.
Then there is John Delacoe, 88, who was being treated at Llandudno hospital for a hip injury and died, his family insists, of the virus he allegedly caught last month.
Former swimming coach Brian Barlow, 80, of Bury, Greater Manchester, went to the hospital for routine surgery and was also said to have been infected with the virus that killed him.
Stroke victim Margaret Rotheram was recovering from Royal Bolton Hospital when she too was infected and died. The list is lengthened increasingly.
Boris Johnson promised yesterday in the House of Commons to do everything possible to prevent patients from getting the virus from NHS hospitals. He was responding to Laurence Robertson, MP for Tewkesbury, who revealed that his father, Jim, died of coronaviruses after catching him when he went for treatment for another illness.
The heads of health, who must know how many people have gone to hospital to catch the virus and how many are dying, have refused to give us the figures; or they say it’s not their job to collect them.
This tragic – and secret – part of the pandemic must certainly not remain hidden from the British public.