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Anger as elderly couple contract coronavirus after Medway Maritime Hospital operation

A grieving son is calling for answers after his 85-year-old father contracted coronavirus and died following an operation at Medway Maritime Hospital.

Chris Pickett believes his mother Doreen, 84, also caught the disease when his father Terry was sent back to his home in Rainham on December 6, following the hip operation in November.

Former RAF technician Terry Pickett (left) with son Chris
Former RAF technician Terry Pickett (left) with son Chris

Mr Pickett says the hospital failed to test his father for coronavirus when he was discharged, which led to his father dying and his mother contracting the virus.

"It's put us in a tragic position because my parents had been shielding all last year," said Mr Pickett, 56.

"The family had been adhering to the rulebook all the way through but in November my father had a fall and broke his femur.

"He was then rushed to hospital and they performed a hip operation.

"He was discharged on December 6 and sent home with a care package - he was having rehabilitation at home, but he started to feel unwell - he was diabetic and if you get an infection it plays havoc with your blood sugar readings.

Doreen and Terry Pickett with son Chris. Both Doreen and Terry served with the RAF
Doreen and Terry Pickett with son Chris. Both Doreen and Terry served with the RAF

"Then he had a hypoglycemic event overnight - he was lucky to survive the night."

The 85-year-old was taken to Maidstone Hospital where he tested positive for Covid-19, and died there two days later, with contributory facts including coronavirus, pneumonia and a pulmonary embolism.

Mr Pickett also says more should have been done to support his mother after she too was admitted to hospital with Covid and then sent home.

"You've got an 84-year-old widow who's lost her husband living in a house on her own and no one can go near her. We were keeping in touch with her on the telephone - she's still alive just.

"She's out of hospital now but the trouble we've had trying to get care is a joke.

'There was no care package in place...'

"They literally brought her home on New Year's Day and plonked her in a chair with a glass of water and said get on with it. There was no care package in place."

Mr Pickett and his daughter stepped in to care for his mother, and he says an emergency response team from Medway Community Healthcare have been "brilliant" for introducing a care package.

But he said events needn't have progressed to that point.

"Why are the hospital sending people home before they are safe to be sent into the community?" he added.

"We all understand, if we're not conspiracy theorists and we're relatively intelligent, we've got an understanding of the risks of Covid 19.

'It's bad enough losing my father, but I could have lost my mother too...'

"“When my father was in hospital they tested him on entry to hospital but not when he left. I believe they had a duty of care towards my mother to ensure he wasn't contagious.”

"It's bad enough losing my father, but I could have lost my mother too - due to what is bad practice at best and negligence at worst. Had he been tested in hospital he would have shown up as being positive and wouldn't have been sent home to my mother.

"I'm hearing horror stories of families being decimated by this. You don't expect people to be sent home from hospital in a dangerous state. I don't think it's acceptable. I understand how overwhelmed they are - I get that, but I don't think people should be sent home like that."

James Devine, chief executive of Medway NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I’d like to offer my condolences to Mr. Pickett’s family for their loss.

“A complaint has been received in relation to Mr Pickett’s care and we will speak with the family directly in relation to this.”

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