Craigavon Hospital coronavirus death: Call for police inquiry

Craigavon Area HospitalImage copyright

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Craigavon Area Hospital treated the highest number of Covid-19 patients during the height of the pandemic

The family of a patient at Craigavon Area Hospital who died with Covid-19 is calling for the police to investigate his death.

John Fleming, 79, from Loughgilly, County Armagh, was being treated for bone cancer when the virus entered the hospital’s haematology ward last month.

The father of four tested positive the day before he was to be discharged and died on 3 September.

The Southern Health Trust has launched a serious adverse incident review.

In a statement issued on Thursday evening through their solicitor Des Doherty, the family said: “We call upon the Police Service of Northern Ireland to commence a criminal investigation immediately and for the Southern Trust to confirm publicly that the trust and all their staff will comply with any such investigation.

“We believe that there was a gross breach of the duty of care owed to our father that warrants a criminal investigation.

“In due course the proper forum for all of this to be dealt with is a public inquiry, which we believe is inevitable.

“As our father was dying, he pleaded with us to get to the bottom of what has happened and not to give up. That is what we intend to do by the use of all legitimate legal processes that we can.”

The family statement added: “To put it simply, to tell us the truth and give us full and honest answers. Nothing less will be acceptable.”

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Yvonne Stewart said her father “gave everything” to fight Covid-19

On Wednesday, Mr Fleming’s family met Health Minister Robin Swann at Stormont and gave him an open letter raising questions about the outbreak at the hospital.

Speaking after that meeting, Mr Fleming’s widow Ann told BBC News NI they did not want another family to endure their pain.

“It’s tough, extremely tough, but we don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” she said.

Six people have died as a result of the coronavirus outbreak on the haematology ward at Craigavon in County Armagh.

Five people have also died as a result of a separate outbreak at Daisy Hill hospital in Newry, County Down.

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust, which runs both facilities, has launched a serious adverse incident investigation – the highest level within the health service – to try to establish what happened.

The trust said: “We again express our profound sympathy to family of Mr Fleming.

“An independent chair and deputy chair have been appointed to lead the level 3 serious adverse incident review.

“We will not be making any further comment at this time.”

BBC News

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