We just want a proper investigation into my mum’s death, says daughter of tragic 84-year-old
A woman whose mother died after contracting Covid-19 at the Royal Victoria Hospital has appealed to the Belfast Trust to urgently investigate the circumstances of her death.
Families across Northern Ireland are seeking similar answers after their loved ones caught the virus in a hospital setting.
The Belfast Telegraph has uncovered 206 patient deaths linked to definite or probable Covid healthcare-associated infections (HCAI).
At least 78 deaths took place in the Belfast Trust. Of these, 44 were at the Royal (RVH).
The true death toll is unknown because the Southern and South Eastern Trusts have refused to provide answers to Freedom of Information (FoI) requests.
Newtownabbey woman Glenda McClintock (84) was admitted to the RVH on December 20 last year. She tested negative but was very ill and had pneumonia in both lungs.
Her daughter, Jackie King, got a phone call on New Year’s Eve while shopping at a supermarket to inform her that her mother had tested positive. The 84-year-old mum-of-three passed away on January 3.
An FoI request by Ms King showed that over a two-month period from December 1, 2020, to January 31 this year, which covers the time her mother was an inpatient, 25 patients contracted Covid in the RVH and died.
Ms King said her mother was the “matriarch” of the family and kept everyone together, a woman who would “give you her last penny” and who was heavily involved in charitable work.
“The circumstances around her death were pretty horrible. We couldn’t get in to see her. She was struggling to breathe, coughing and all the rest of it,” she explained.
“Given her lung condition, we protected her as much as we could, but she had a fall and broke her hip. The paramedics said her breathing was very poor and she was so weak that she fell.
“She was struggling to eat and breathe and they were trying different antibiotics to deal with the infection.”
The news that her mother had contracted Covid in a hospital was a “bolt out of the blue”.
The family believed that because of the level of community transmission at the time, staff and visitors would be “well vetted” before entering the hospital to protect vulnerable patients.
Ms King said: “I thought that restrictions would have been tightened in the hospital. The FoI shows that 25 people died.
“My concerns centre around the hospital’s infection control and visitor access. Anyone could, and did, just walk onto the ward without being challenged.
“I was also told by the consultant a serious adverse incident assessment [would be] carried out, but I’ve heard nothing since.
“I’ve been waiting for nine months for someone to get back to me to say, ‘We’ve looked at this case, we’ve looked at x, y and z and this is what we’ve done to remedy that happening again’, but I’ve got nothing. All I want is a proper investigation.”
The hospital still has not told the family how Ms McClintock contracted Covid, but Ms King assumes it was through a member of staff.
In its FoI response to Ms King, the Belfast Trust said it had convened an advisory committee for nosocomial Covid-19 infection that is chaired by its deputy medical director for risk and governance.
But the family has not been provided with any update from the committee.
While Ms King accepts that her mother’s health had deteriorated prior to entering hospital, she will always question whether treatment could have worked in the absence of Covid-19.
In England, NHS staff have been warned they could face a mandatory requirement to be vaccinated against Covid, with the Health secretary Saying he is “leaning towards” making the jabs compulsory.
No such plans are imminent in Northern Ireland.
The Department of Health said it continued to work with health and social care employers to “maximise uptake”.
On HCAIs, the department previously said: “Healthcare-associated infections are an ever-present risk during a pandemic, particularly when community prevalence levels are high.
“The risk of transmission of Covid-19 infection in healthcare settings has been significantly reduced through implementation of a range of mitigating measures, including strict adherence to infection prevention and control practices, use of personal protective equipment, frequent and thorough hand hygiene, and regular testing of staff and patients, including testing prior to admission.”
The Belfast Trust has been contacted for comment.