A woman from Bristol who is unable to visit her sick father in hospital because of the coronavirus pandemic has revealed the heartbreaking moment he told her he felt abandoned and "left to die" by his family.

Gulzar Wazir, 84, is in the city's Southmead Hospital undergoing treatment for gallstones.

Because he has problems with his short-term memory he can't remember why his family isn't visiting him.

Like thousands of other families they're not allowed to visit their father in hospital as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In their most recent call - which was more than a week ago - he told them he felt deserted.

He said 'you've both left me to die', that we'd abandoned him. That's the last time I spoke to dad.

Marina Benson, daughter of Gulzar
Gulzar served as an officer in the Pakistan Air Force Credit: Family picture
Marina Benson, daughter of Gulzar, is unable to see him in hospital

Nearly all the region’s hospitals are turning visitors away in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Hospitals, including Southmead, say exceptions to the visiting ban may be made on compassionate grounds for the following patients:

  • Vulnerable patients who have dementia or learning disabilities

  • Patients receiving end-of-life care (as long as they do not have coronavirus)

  • Patients in labour and neonatal wards

These decisions are at the discretion of the ward matron. Mr Wazir's daughters have not been granted an exception, but have been told one of them would be allowed to visit for 15 minutes if their father deteriorated.

For hygiene reasons staff are no longer taking the ward phone round to patients, so unless the situation changes Mr Wazir’s family will not be able to speak to him.

Thousands of families are in a similar situation. Lesley Bowden has been in intensive care at Plymouth's Derriford Hospital for the past week after suffering a brain hemorrhage. She regained some consciousness last Thursday (April 2) but her family could not be there.

Lesley Bowden is in Plymouth's Derriford Hospital after suffering a brain hemorrhagehaemmorage Credit: Family picture

We fully understand and it's incredibly hard. It's probably been the hardest part of the whole experience - not being able to be with her and hold her hand and hopefully give her that reassurance and support as a family.

Nicola Mitchell, Lesley's daughter

Nicola says hospital staff have kept them fully updated but they do not know when they will be reunited with Lesley.

Lesley with her daughter Nicola Credit: Family picture