'My dad was let down': Father-of-seven died after treating patient with coronavirus

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

The death of a “selfless” nurse who died from coronavirus could have been prevented along with others, his daughter has said.

Father-of-seven Thomas Harvey was an NHS nurse for 20 years at Goodmayes Hospital in London and had recently treated a patient who had tested positive for coronavirus.

To his wife, Mr Harvey had expressed grave concerns about the lack of protective equipment and said he was given a “flimsy apron and no mask”.

His daughter is angry at the government for not issuing ample equipment to all frontline healthcare workers - she says her dad devoted his life to the NHS and this is how he was repaid.

Thomas Harvey was part of a big family.

“My dad was definitely let down,” Tamira Harvey told ITV News.

“I don’t feel that they’re [NHS staff] safe at the moment, I don’t think that they would think that they’re safe.

“The Government could have prevented this.

"They probably knew the severity of the situation before we all did as the public, so I feel like this really could have been prevented.

"If they invested some money into protective equipment for nurses, because they are really on the frontline and putting their lives at risk every day.”

Mr Harvey first showed symptoms on March 11 and promptly began self-isolating along with his family at their home in Shoreditch, east London.

In the following days, called NHS 111 and his GP, both of who confirmed that his symptoms were those of coronavirus.

On March 22, he dialled 999 as his condition worsened.

Paramedics, who had to break down a bathroom door to find him collapsed, were wearing full protection and told the family that “we have to give up... the virus has got him”.

Mr Harvey died on Sunday morning.

Thomas Harvey's family has come closer together in the days since his death.

Ms Harvey said she wants to hold the Government to account and claims that because of their inaction, their father has died.

He was fit and healthy, and had no underlying conditions, she said.

“I don’t blame the hospital at all not one bit, if anything it’s in the hands of the Government,” she said.

“My dad was a really selfless person, he always put others before himself,” she added.

“It hurts a lot, we’ve just had to take it day by day, it’s made us stronger as a family.”

A spokesperson for North East London NHS Foundation Trust insisted the hospital has been following national PPE guidance.

Chief executive Professor Oliver Shanley said: “It is with deep regret that we share with you that we have sadly lost a dear and valued colleague who had Covid-19.

“Thomas was a longstanding dedicated member of our intermediate care team.

"I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Thomas’s family, friends and work colleagues.

“We are ensuring they are supported through this difficult time and I would like to thank colleagues for the professionalism and compassion they have shown.”

Dr Alfa Sa'adu came out of retirement.

Another medic who fell victim to the virus this week was Dr Alfa Sa’adu, who came out of retirement to help the NHS.

He worked one day a week at Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, Hertfordshire as a locum with geriatric patients.

His family grew concerned that his symptoms had been present for a while but he refused to be taken to hospital as “there are people who need the beds more than I do”.

His son, Dani, went to see him – at a distance and with a mask on – after his condition took a turn for the worse on Sunday.

He could see Dr Sa'adu was struggling to breath and paramedics were called.

An oxygen monitor showed his levels were undetectable.

“He knew straight away he probably had it, he did the right thing he self-isolated himself, which was very tough for him because it meant he wasn’t able to see his grandkids who he was very close to,” his son said.

“What was scary is from that moment his deterioration from Sunday… he died on Tuesday morning.

“The hospital did everything they could, they did a tremendous job but he just couldn’t fight the virus anymore, his body shut down and he died on Tuesday morning.”

He then urged the public to “take this seriously”, adding that he had never seen anything “do something like this so quickly”.