NHS worker who died with Covid was refused shielding status despite history of respiratory problems

The hospital theatre assistant died after contracting coronavirus

An NHS healthcare worker with a history of respiratory problems who did not qualify for shielding status died after contracting coronavirus, an inquest has heard.Allan Macalalad, 44, was employed in the operating department at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff when he became unwell in May 2020.An inquest at Pontypridd Coroners' Court heard the theatre assistant was admitted to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant on May 17 complaining of a "shortness of breath".

A CT scan at the hospital showed the father-of-one had a blood clot in his lungs and after suffering a cardiac arrest he died on May 26 with tests showing that he had been infected with Covid-19.

The inquest heard that Mr Macalalad, who lived in Llwynypia, Rhondda Cynon Taf, with his wife Elsie, a nurse, and their son Justin, had approached his GP in March 2020 with concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and his personal health history.

Allan Macalalad, 44 Credit: handout

Mr Macalalad, who was born in the Philippines, had been diagnosed with type two non-insulin-dependent diabetes in 2011.In 2019, Mr Macalalad had surgery for pneumonia and a collapsed lung and the inquest heard that in March 2020 he was increasingly anxious about how his health conditions increased his vulnerability to coronavirus.

Mr Macalalad was told by his GP that he did not qualify for a shielding letter, but in April 2020 his employer, Cardiff and Vale University, moved from his post as a theatre assistant to a non patient-facing role.On May 5 last year Mr Macalalad received a call from his wife Elsie, a nurse at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda, to say she had been sent home from work with coronavirus symptoms.Five days after receiving a positive coronavirus result on May 12 he was admitted to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital due to difficulty in breathing.

Allan Macalalad became unwell in May 2020

The results of the chest X-ray showed that small blood clots had appeared on his chest and although his condition had deteriorated slightly, written evidence by Dr Ahmed Benjamin, a consultant respiratory physician at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, said that MrMacalalalad was considered stable.Mr Macalalad was discovered unresponsive having suffered a cardiac arrest while wearing a CPAP mask. Despite attempts to resuscitate him over the next 50 minutes through CPR and adrenaline treatment he was declared dead.The inquest heard that as a result of his role change there was "nothing to demonstrate" that Mr Macalalad had been a direct close contact of a coronavirus case or a known case while at work.

Closing the inquest coroner Graeme Hughes said the conclusion drawn that Mr Macalalad died of a pulmonary thromboembolism and coronavirus pneumonitis with type two diabetes as the secondary cause was sustained. Mr Hughes also said that it was likely that Mr Macalalad's previous respiratory conditions had played a part in his ability to fight the virus.He ruled that it was unlikely that the causation of Covid infection occurred during his employment and while there was the possibility that he could have come into contact with somebody asymptomatic at work there was not enough evidence to suggest the death was industrially linked.Mr Hughes recorded a conclusion of natural causes and offered his condolences to the family of Mr Macalalad including those in the Philippines.

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