Heavily pregnant nurse 'felt pressured' to work despite concerns, inquest told

A heavily-pregnant nurse working with Covid patients at the start of the pandemic felt "pressured" to return to work despite concerns for her safety, her inquest heard.

Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, 28, was a sister at Luton and Dunstable UniversityHospital and worked on the wards up until March 12 2020 when she was signed offwork with back problems, her widower Ernest Boateng told Bedfordshire and LutonCoroner's Court.

But Mr Boateng said she continued to go in to hospital to confirm herill-health, and to attend medical appointments.

Ms Agyapong was admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties on April 5 butwas discharged later that day, and was readmitted two days later withcoronavirus symptoms, at 35 weeks pregnant.Surgeons safely delivered the baby, also named Mary, by Caesarean sectionbefore Ms Agyapong was transferred to the intensive care unit, where she died onApril 12.The preliminary cause of death was given as pneumonia and Covid-19.Giving evidence to the inquest, Mr Boateng said:

Mr Boateng, a mental health worker currently studying for a Masters in law,said she also began sleeping in the spare room at the family home to protect herhusband and their son, AJ.Mr Boateng, 30, added: "She told me the staff were very scared about the virusbecause they were on the front line and likely to come into contact withCovid-19 patients. I wanted her to stay at home. But due to high demand at the hospital, she had to continue working. She tried to reassure me that everything would be okay but I could understand she was anxious and panicking deep down."Mr Boateng said he strongly believed his wife, originally from Ghana,contracted coronavirus while at work.He said: "My understanding is Mary was being pressurised to get back to work,as she had meetings about her sickness records earlier that year."He said Ms Agyapong "struggled" with her second pregnancy and "continued towork long, 12-hour shifts"."She found it very tiring and difficult," he said.

Mary and Ernest Credit: Family photo

Mr Boateng said he was not allowed onto the maternity ward to be with his wifewhen she gave birth to their daughter on April 7 and described the huge impactof her death on the family.

The Luton and Dunstable Hospital Credit: ITV Anglia

He said:

The hearing continues.