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Coronavirus: Solicitor Niall Murphy calls for 're-evaluation of society' post-pandemic

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Niall Murphy in Antrim Area Hospital where he was treated for Covid-19

Niall Murphy in Antrim Area Hospital where he was treated for Covid-19

Niall Murphy in Antrim Area Hospital where he was treated for Covid-19

Prominent Belfast solicitor Niall Murphy has called for a "re-evaluation of society" after praising nurses and doctors for the care he gave him while he was in hospital with coronavirus.

Mr Murphy, who was released from hospital on Monday, said he was privileged to have been looked after by doctors and nurses.

"There is so much in society that needs to be re-imagined," he said, speaking to the BBC's Talkback programme.

The solicitor said he doesn't know how he caught the virus, which led to him spending 16 days in a coma after falling ill on Friday March 13.

Mr Murphy explained he was only able to send his wife a text message before being put in an induced coma after he arrived at Antrim Area Hospital in such a serious condition he could barely walk.

"I texted her to try and briefly explain. It all just moved so fast. There was no opportunity to phone. I didn't feel anything other than this was the right thing to do.

His wife was later told there was only a 50-50 chance of his survival.

"That was a difficult call. She was putting the dinner out for the children, you know. But you need told," he said.

"She would have preferred that than to be told the next day that things are even worse.

"It is all part of the process and thankfully I am out the other side."

Mr Murphy said he felt "guilty and terrible" for putting his family through the ordeal, but he was aware "there are people passing away every day from this. It's just a very terrible, aggressive virus," he said.

When he woke up, he only had limited awareness of what was going on around him. "I knew that there was tubes feeding me, water and medicine going into me. I knew I was in the right place.

"I had no appreciation of what a nurse does for example. It was a privilege to be looked after by some of the people who looked after me," he said.

He compared healthcare workers to the firefighters who ran into the Twin Towers, on the frontline of the pandemic. "But we're not giving them the equipment," he said.

"I just can't explain the difficult working conditions for these people who are doing the most dexterous of jobs. All the while they're focused on getting people better," he said.

In the winter, Mr Murphy said he had driven past nurses striking for pay and safe working conditions outside the Mater Hospital.

"They were depriving themselves of a day’s work, a day’s wage, for staffing levels," he said.

"Think about that. That’s how professional these people are. Prepared not to receive a wage so that their patients can be safe.

"I am horrified when I look back at how relatively indifferent I was."

"I just hope there is a societal re-evaluation of everything, the rat race, it’s not important. It means nothing," he said.

"Why should a hedge fund manager get paid millions, and a nurse has to stand in the darkness and the wet to protest to keep their patients safe.

"There is so much in society that needs to be re-imagined."

After being released from hospital on Monday, Mr Murphy said his first port of call was his mother's house.

"I got out of hospital yesterday afternoon, I was picked up by my wife and children and I'm very weak to be honest To be home with my wife and children is unfathomable - to be in my own house and my own bed, it's just magnificent.

The first place we went to was my mother's. I'm going to be ultra-cautious and would encourage friends and anybody listening that you have to abide by these guidelines on social distancing. Not being able to hug my mother was difficult. That was quite emotional to be honest," he said.

Belfast Telegraph