A cancer patient who has been shielding since before the pandemic began is now fearing for his life after contracting coronavirus in hospital, along with his entire ward.
Stephen Lavin, 56, blames ‘multiple lapses in infection control’ at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary for his diagnosis and says patients were allowed to go without face masks.
He claims that one patient, who tested positive before others on the ward, waited six days to find out their result – potentially exposing other staff and patients to the virus, while another attempted to hug Mr Lavin while drunk.
The former teacher, who has advanced bowel cancer and lives in Glasgow, says he is scared and furious at his situation. He explained: ‘I have isolated for a year and successfully avoided any transmitted infection. I am now in a locked down ward with others who are positive, the level of care and infection control is terrible, there’s severe staff shortages, nonsensical rules on testing and flagging of concerns.
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‘Staff will not enforce people to wear masks, it’s truly horrendous and I am terrified I’ll not get out of here. If I knew what I know now I would not have come into hospital.’
He also told Metro.co.uk that he had seen staff attend to different patients without adequate hand washing in between. The hospital insists that its workers are ‘following the latest national clinical guidance’ on infection control.
Mr Lavin says he sympathises with the front-line workers, since he believes the hospital is ‘understaffed’ because of illness and self-isolation.
The cancer sufferer, who previously worked with several UK universities abroad, had been shielding with his asthmatic wife for since July 2019.
He was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer a month later and has had a number of operations and chemotherapy to treat the disease.
Earlier this month, on Friday, November 6, Mr Lavin was admitted to the hospital, after a wound from earlier surgery became reinfected.
But by November 11, his entire ward had been put into quarantine after a patient who had moved wards tested positive. It had taken six days for that initial result to come back, Mr Lavin claims. By November 12, all the other patients on the ward had been given the same diagnosis.
It is unclear who initially spread the virus and at one point Mr Lavin says a drunk man was coughing in the ward and tried to hug him and shake his hand.
Mr Lavin had tested negative for Covid-19 after a swab on November 7 and then had an operation.
His wife Bernadette Lavin, 46, is unable to visit him and fears she may not see him again.
She told Metro.co.uk: ‘I have been horrified by Stephen’s experience in the hospital and worry about his chances of beating the infection.
‘Given that, only recently, Heads of Medical Colleges and Physicians highlighted the issues and called for tighter restrictions, I find it unbelievable that the existing controls and protocols continue to be woefully inadequate and unfit for purpose that they do not protect patients and staff.’
Mrs Lavin, who works in financial services, added: ‘Clearly, stronger, more robust restrictions are required with immediate effect to avoid more loss of life.’
The couple say they spoke to the Head Nurse, who this weekend ‘agreed that the lapses in hygiene and infection control by nurses was not acceptable’.
In a statement, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which runs the hospital, said: ‘We were very sorry to hear about the concerns raised by Mr Lavin. We understand this is an extremely difficult and anxious time for him and while we cannot comment on individual cases in the media, we can confirm our Clinical Director met with Mr Lavin to discuss his concerns.
‘In relation to infection prevention and control, across our wards we follow the latest national clinical guidance. This includes strict adherence to PPE regulation on all wards, including regular reminders and training for staff on best practice.
‘We also encourage our inpatients to wear surgical masks wherever it is safe and appropriate to do so.
‘We follow the national testing policy, which includes testing anyone showing Covid-19 symptoms or scheduled for elective surgery.’
It continued: ‘Over and above this, we also test all patients over 70 years old on arrival and regularly throughout their stay, which resulted in us being able to identify the index case on this particular ward.
‘As a result we swiftly took appropriate action on the ward to minimise the risk of further transmission and closed it to new admissions while appropriate contract tracing and follow-up could take place.
‘We can confirm patients who have been moved from this ward were moved in line with national guidance and through an established system for segregating patients through red, amber and green Covid pathways within our hospitals to minimise cross-transmission.’
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