A hospital has apologised after an elderly cancer patient tested positive for coronavirus, having been left in a ward with another patient suffering from Covid-19 for several days.
The Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which serves the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, Wales, has confirmed that it is dealing with an outbreak of the virus at the hospital.
It comes after Lesley Pook accused the hospital of “locking” her father James ‘Jim’ Pook and others in a ward with a coronavirus patient and “waiting for them all to develop symptoms”.
Ms Pook, an administrative worker with the NHS, told Wales Online that her father was admitted to the Royal Gwent hospital three weeks ago after he collapsed at his home.
Doctors initially thought James was suffering from a gastric bleed, but he was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer following further tests.
On 27 November, her father called to tell her a patient who was recovering from Covid-19 had been transferred to his bay in the C4 west ward, Ms Pook told the newspaper
James was “distraught” at the development, said Ms Pook, and asked her to “get me out, get me out of here”.
“They had moved this patient from the Covid ward and said he was recovering,” she was quoted as saying.
The patient tested positive for coronavirus a couple of days later, but were not removed from the ward until several hours after the test result came in, said Ms Pook, adding that she was assured by one of the doctors that all the patients in her father’s bay would be tested for the virus.
But she was later told this would not be the case as the hospital does not “test patient unless they are showing symptoms”, she said.
“They shut the bay doors and left them to it. Just waiting for them all to develop symptoms,” said Ms Pook. “It was a disaster waiting to happen.”
A week later, on 3 December, James told his daughter another patient in the bay had tested positive for the virus.
“I could hear the others in the ward while I was on the phone, they were saying ‘we’re locked in here with this virus’ and ‘they’re killing’ us.
“My dad is a very strong man, so to hear him saying ‘Lesley help me’… To hear them all so desperate was like a kick in the chest,” she said, describing the call as “horrific”.
The patients were eventually tested at around 6pm the following day after complaining continuously. Ms Pook’s father confirmed that he had contracted the virus, along with all the other patients on the ward except one, just after midnight on 5 December.
James was “devastated” as his cancer diagnosis meant he was “extremely high risk” of developing severe Covid-19.
But the nightmare continued, as the hospital reportedly asked James if he had anyone at home who could look after him if they sent him home.
Ms Pook said she “couldn’t believe it”, adding: “The cases of the virus in Gwent are so high, and it’s because they are shipping them out back into the community and spread it into their families.”
Had the hospital taken earlier action, it may have been able to stop the virus from spreading from patient to patient, she said, but discharging the patients home was “just lunacy beyond belief”.
Her father refused to return home and was moved into a single isolation room in Ystrad Fawrs Hospital in Hengoed, where he said he felt “much safer”.
Ms Pook is due to get married later this month but told Wales Online she did not know if her father would be able to make it.
She said the hospital had “taken that away from me, and they’ve taken that away from my dad”.
“They’ve got blood on their hands if anything happens – it would be manslaughter as far as I am concerned,” she said.
A spokesperson for the health board said in a statement that infection control meetings have been held “to determine cause [of the Covid outbreak] and ensure robust processes for preventing, managing and containing the infection are being promulgated”.
“The Hospital is under significant pressure but the protection of patients and staff is an absolute priority,” they said.
“We are aware of the situation with Mr Pook and an investigation is ongoing, as per all Wales Putting Things Right processes, to understand what happened and whether any improvements are required.
“We take complaints and incidents, such as those described, very seriously. We would like to apologise to Mr Pook and his family, and other patients, for the distress caused and reiterate we are rapidly reviewing what happened.”
Vaccine allergy warning issued as London ‘could face tier 3’
Relaxing restrictions before vulnerable vaccinated risks ‘big surge’
Merkel backs tougher restrictions amid record Covid deaths
UK healthcare workers seven times more likely to develop severe Covid
Can I travel to Wales under the new Covid rules?