David Griffin, 59, from Ashby-de-la-Zouch.
My 85-year-old mother, Kathleen Trueman, contracted Covid-19 in Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham. She was admitted on 30 September for a fall. She also had diabetic ulcers and delirium and had been in and out of hospital. She tested negative for Covid, but I then got a call on Thursday 8 October to say she’d got hospital-acquired Covid and was being moved to City hospital, where Covid cases were being concentrated.
I feel really upset about it. My mum went into hospital without Covid, caught it and was then moved to a Covid hothouse. On Tuesday 13 October, I got the call saying my mum was about to die within the hour and did I want to come to say goodbye. I felt obligated – I knew it was the wrong thing to do for my safety, but she was my dying mother. The hospital reassured me it was safe, so I sat there while she took her last breath. I was there about 40 minutes from arriving until she died. I had minimal PPE on – a mask, apron and gloves. I stayed another hour, so in total I was on the ward for just under two hours.
But the PPE wasn’t enough. I definitely caught Covid sitting with my mum. My wife and I had obeyed the rules religiously, we were having shopping deliveries, staying at home not going anywhere, having no one inside the house. There was no point during the previous two weeks where we could have got it.
At first, I didn’t think it was Covid. I never had a cough or temperature or loss of smell. About two days after Mum died, I started feeling a bit rough, like I had gastric flu. I couldn’t eat or drink anything. After a couple of days, I took some paracetamol and went to bed. After four or five days, I was still vomiting a lot. So I spoke to my GP who advised me to get tested just in case. To our surprise, my wife and I both tested positive. After about eight days of no real food or drink, I started to have delusions: I thought I had to rewrite the dictionary, then thought I was doing a 9bn-piece jigsaw and couldn’t find the missing bit. In the end my wife took me to hospital on 25 October. A chest X-ray showed I had Covid pneumonia and I was given some fluids via a drip, as well as some oxygen. After a couple of days I felt alright, I was able to eat, shower. But then the nurses told me I had to go to ICU because my oxygen levels were still far too low.
Within hours I’d deteriorated and my wife was told things were looking really bleak. I’d been in ICU two days when I thought: “If I’m going to die, I want to be asleep.” I took a sleeping tablet, but woke up in the middle of the night to see lots of people around my bed. I thought I was being kidnapped. Of course they were just trying to save my life. From then on things improved. That I survived is entirely down to the staff. I thought I wasn’t going to make it.
I’ve been a soldier and a policeman but I’ve never seen such selflessness and skill as the doctors and nurses showed. They saved my life. I was discharged on Bonfire Night, but I’m still not back to normal.
For the rest of November and all December, I never left the house. Walking up the stairs felt worse than a 20-mile run. I’d be gasping for air and it would take 10 minutes to recover. Having a two-minute shower, I’d be too exhausted to dry myself.
Now I can breathe bigger breaths, but the overall weakness is still there. Emotionally this has traumatised me more than anything I’ve seen before. It’s not just what I went through that I find so hard to deal with, it’s what happened to my mum and all the other old ladies on the ward. Is this how elderly people are treated? As soon as they get Covid, whack them to a Covid factory to die. What chance did Mum have?
As told to Anna Bawden.
A spokeswoman for Nottingham University hospitals said: “We would like to offer condolences to Mr Griffin for the loss of his mother and we are sorry to hear that he has suffered from Covid-19.
“The level of PPE used while Mr Griffin was in our care was in line with national guidance, but we would welcome the opportunity to discuss any concerns with Mr Griffin who has not yet contacted the trust.”
Soeli Dayus, 46, from Birmingham.
My mum, Diana Walker, 68, sadly passed on 8 January 2021 after contracting Covid in Good Hope hospital, Birmingham. She went into hospital on 10 November after she got a high temperature following a different type of chemo treatment for her cancer. She was having regular Covid-19 tests and tested negative the day before her admission to hospital. She didn’t test positive until 18 November and did not start showing symptoms for another week.
By 21 November, mum was really weak from the Covid and her cancer was spreading rapidly without treatment. She broke her hip on 26 November, when she fell out of her hospital bed trying to reach her phone.
She was transferred to Queen Elizabeth hospital on 3 December, but she was too unwell for the anaesthetic, so she never actually had the surgery to fix her hip. She was kept isolated in a private room for weeks. When I was eventually allowed to see her on 23 December, her condition had deteriorated significantly and it was agreed that we would commence a discharge plan to allow her to spend her remaining days at home. When I next visited her on 4 January she was dehydrated and malnourished. I was then given a pass to visit her every day to assist with feeding. I eventually managed to get her home on 7 January but she died within 12 hours.
I have submitted a complaint about her overall care throughout the pandemic to the hospital trust. They apologised for my mum’s hip and said although they considered it to be an accident, they would tighten procedures. But they’ve not explained how Mum caught Covid in hospital or provided an apology over her care over her last few weeks.
At mum’s inquest, the coroner said that the cancers would have killed her anyway, but the Covid saw her off much quicker than they would have. Getting Covid meant that she couldn’t come home and have the proper care with us for the end of her life. I will not give up in my quest to gain recognition for the failures in my mum’s care.
I don’t blame the individual doctors or nurses; they are doing an incredible job in the face of such adversity, but chronic underfunding and a bizarre management system allowed significant gaps in my mum’s care to develop. Overall, the government is responsible. but for now I’m hoping for some recognition from the hospital trust that the cumulative actions contributed to her early death.
If we’re going to get another wave of Covid, people with vulnerabilities shouldn’t be frightened to go to hospital. They knew about infection control and what to do, so how did she catch Covid in hospital? Hospitals should be the safest place for you. How are we going to stop them being overwhelmed next time?
As told to Anna Bawden.
A spokesman for University hospitals Birmingham said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Ms Walker and we extend our deepest condolences to her family.
“We will continue to work hard to keep patients as safe as possible, whilst learning and sharing any lessons to keep patients safe from a virus that has led to sad and wide-ranging consequences for many.”