| 17°C Belfast

Son blames father’s death on lack of coronavirus testing for hospital staff

Jeff Lavington from South Wales caught the virus while recovering from a stroke.

Close

Jeff Lavington, 81, died in hospital after contracting coronavirus (Mark Lavington/PA)

Jeff Lavington, 81, died in hospital after contracting coronavirus (Mark Lavington/PA)

Jeff Lavington, 81, died in hospital after contracting coronavirus (Mark Lavington/PA)

The grieving son of an 81-year-old man who died after contracting coronavirus in hospital has blamed his father’s death on a lack of testing and protective equipment for frontline NHS staff.

Jeff Lavington from South Wales caught the virus while recovering from a stroke in Glangwili General Hospital. He had been admitted on February 13.

Mark Lavington, his 54-year-old son from Carmarthen, said: “From talking to two members of staff on the ward, I gather that one of the members of staff had been exhibiting (coronavirus) symptoms.”

He added that staff caring for him did an “amazing job”, but claimed some of those treating him were protected only by disposable gloves, disposable polythene aprons, and surgical masks.

Mr Lavington paid tribute to his “father and best friend,” describing his “heartbreaking” death on Thursday as a “serious direct consequence of Tory failure” to test NHS staff.

Close

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (Pippa Fowles/Crown Copyright)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (Pippa Fowles/Crown Copyright)

PA

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (Pippa Fowles/Crown Copyright)

“(Health Secretary) Matt Hancock stood up on January 23 before we had any serious cases in the UK, and assured the House and the country that we already had a test for the virus, we were ready to go, and we had the best laboratories in the world capable of tackling this disease.

“And today he’s just been on television, saying the promise of having 100,000 tests a day, which he made yesterday, is going to be very difficult to reach.

“They talk a good game, but they’ve done nothing.

“The Government are sacrificing not only patients, but members of the health service and social care workers.”

Mr Hancock has said about 1,500 frontline healthcare staff are being tested daily since centres opened in recent days, and he insisted that number is “ramping up fast”.

Mr Lavington added: “I’m desperately sad, losing my father and my best friend as well, after caring for him for the past few years.

“It’s just dreadful, having to die in hospital without having seen anyone for days, with one brief video call as the only family contact for two weeks. It’s heartbreaking.

Close

A person holds a swab at a Covid-19 drive-through test centre for NHS workers (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A person holds a swab at a Covid-19 drive-through test centre for NHS workers (Jonathan Brady/PA)

PA

A person holds a swab at a Covid-19 drive-through test centre for NHS workers (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“And there are many thousands, tens of thousands perhaps, of people going through the same thing, because our Government won’t sort out testing.”

Jeff Lavington worked for oil companies across the globe and fought for improvements to healthcare in the UK, his son said.

He added the hospital staff did an “amazing job” caring for his father, and described how they helped him speak with his children and grandchildren on a video call a few days before he died.

He said: “Despite knowing that my father was Covid-19 positive, two nurses were sitting beside him, holding him upright in bed and holding the phone for him so that he could see his granddaughter and his daughter.

“They were doing that while dressed in disposable gloves, disposable polythene aprons, and surgical masks, and that’s all the protective gear they had.”

Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience for Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the family at this time and our door is open should they wish to discuss any matters about the care of their loved one.

“Our staff working in our hospitals and communities are working tremendously hard and adjusting environments and pathways of care during these extraordinary times, in line with expert guidance and in order to keep our patients as safe as possible.

“Our staff have been issued with Personal Protective Equipment and are using this in line with guidance and we have been testing frontline NHS staff in Wales for several weeks.”

PA