April 19, 2023

Widow Sues The NHS For Neglecting Her Husband Who Died Of Covid

According to the coroner, the deceased, 65-year-old Gareth Roberts died of industrial disease as he seemingly contracted Covid-19 at work. This is probably the first time a coroner has concluded in such a way for a death caused by the virus.

Mr Roberts from Aberdare also had type 2 diabetes. Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said the late Gareth Roberts was a very valued colleague. His widow, Linda Roberts believed the hospital management should have taken him off the wards as he was high risk. She also said she was not happy with the personal protection equipment (PPE) staff were provided with. She has therefore decided to make a claim for damages against the health board.

However, the coroner Graeme Hughes said that the health board adhered to public health guidelines in the provision of PPE for staff including plastic aprons, paper masks and rubber gloves. He also added that Mr Roberts's age, sex and health status were not enough to trigger the need for individual risk assessment by the board.

Mrs Roberts however insists that her late husband should have been better looked after. She said, “I always said I would never take money from the hospital. But I feel so bitter now about the way they looked after their staff in the beginning. I am very bitter about it because they didn't look after them.”

A solicitor for the family,”Matthew Turner”, said the family were seriously concerned about the PPE provided and if the deceased should have been risk assessed especially since he was vulnerable to the virus. He added, “The guidance at the time did require employers to assess their employees and work out who was at risk of complications from Covid. That didn't happen in this case.”

According to Mr Turner, the inquest is a different legal process from the civil claim but adds that the coroner's conclusion of industrial disease was very vital and highly significant to the follow-on claim.

While the family argued for a ruling of death by industrial disease at the inquest, the health board argued for the coroner to conclude that the death was from natural causes. Mr Roberts, who had worked as a nurse since the 1980s, came out of retirement in January 2015 to work as a "bank nurse", doing shifts at various hospitals. In March 2020 when the pandemic hit, he was working at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff. He contracted Covid in late March, and his condition gradually worsened. He died nine days after being admitted at a hospital in Merthyr Tydfil on 2 April 2020.

Mrs Roberts said she is heartbroken by the death of her husband who according to her was her best friend and hero. She also adds that she and her husband, motivated by a love for nursing, had raised their grandson Zac since the death of his parents.

She adds that any compensation that comes from the lawsuit if successful would go into Zac’s education who she plans to send to university.

While the health board reiterated their condolences to Mrs Roberts, the Welsh government has sympathised with families who lost their loved ones due to the pandemic.

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