Nassar Hussain, 58, a radiographer who had worked for decades in the NHS, died at Queen’s Hospital in Romford in May after six weeks in intensive care.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS trust, which runs Queen’s and King George in Ilford, where Mr Hussain was also treated, this week heard harrowing testimony about the communication problems suffered by his family as they sought updates on his fight for life.
The trust was told that requests for information from doctors about his condition never resulted in a reply and that at times they would call late at night to be told by nurses: “Oh, I’m not sure if we have anybody of that name.”
One family member told the board meeting at times they were left unsure whether Mr Hussain had died, and said of their treatment by the trust’s “reassurance team”: “There was a real lack of human kindness and understanding about what was going on.”
Trust chief executive Tony Chambers said: “What I found really difficult is the way that you as a family were left to feel helpless. Those feelings of helplessness, not really knowing what is going on, is just inexcusable. I apologise for that.”
Visiting curbs across the NHS meant many families of dying Covid patients were only able to make occasional contact via smartphones or iPads.
Mr Chambers said the trust’s practices had improved since the start of the pandemic and pledged a “relentless focus” to keeping families better informed.
The bereaved family fears that other east London families for whom English is a second language would have even worse experiences.
“It’s really unfortunate that after so many years of working to save other people’s lives, his couldn’t be saved,” the family member, who asked not to be named, said.
“We are incredibly grateful for the care he received but it was such a leap of faith for us to trust the people we only knew on the end of the phone for a couple of minutes every day, that they were doing the right thing.
“That is not the way we should have gone through that experience.”