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Coroner urges PM to hold inquiry on pandemic after ruling on nurse who died of COVID-19

Inquest closes on the death of sister Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong

Inquest closes on the death of sister Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong

A coroner has urged prime minster Boris Johnson to press ahead with a public inquiry into the pandemic as soon as practicable after concluding it is unclear how a heavily-pregnant nurse contracted COVID-19.

Coroner Emma Whitting delivered a narrative verdict at the inquest into the death of sister Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, who died last year at the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, where she worked, five days after giving birth to her second child.

Plea to consider the wider policy implications

In closing the inquest at Bedfordshire and Luton Coroners Court, the coroner said: As a society, it is important that

Inquest closes on the death of sister Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong

Luton and Dunstable University Hospital and (inset) Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong
Luton and Dunstable University Hospital and (inset) Ms Agyapong Picture: iStock

A coroner has urged prime minster Boris Johnson to press ahead with a public inquiry into the pandemic ‘as soon as practicable’ after concluding it is unclear how a heavily-pregnant nurse contracted COVID-19.

Coroner Emma Whitting delivered a narrative verdict at the inquest into the death of sister Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, who died last year at the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, where she worked, five days after giving birth to her second child.

Plea to consider the wider policy implications

In closing the inquest at Bedfordshire and Luton Coroner’s Court, the coroner said: ‘As a society, it is important that we learn from all of the lives that have been lost as a result of this terrible pandemic and to consider the wider policy implications.

‘Since this is a process which goes far beyond a coroner’s inquest and the prime minister has indicated his intention to hold a full public inquiry into the pandemic, I urge him to proceed with this as soon as practicable.’

Stating Ms Agyapong died of multiple organ failure and COVID-19, the coroner said it was unclear where and when her exposure to the virus had occurred.

Nurse had concerns about COVID-19 infection at work

Mr Agyapong’s widower Ernest Boateng told the inquest his wife was concerned about becoming infected at work.

After the ruling, he said: ‘I am glad that those who were involved in Mary’s care in the final weeks of her life have had to give a full account of what happened.

‘I hope that the fact that they have had to do so will remind them of the need to always give the best possible care to women in Mary’s situation – especially black women who are themselves on the front line of healthcare.’

Ms Agyapong was admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties on 5 April 2020 but was discharged later that day.

Ms Agyapong deteriorated rapidly after receiving satisfactory care

William Manning, who discharged Ms Agyapong, told the inquest he suspected she had COVID-19 but had sent her home because she did not require oxygen.

She was readmitted two days later with coronavirus symptoms, at 35 weeks pregnant. Surgeons safely delivered her daughter, also named Mary, by Caesarean section before Ms Agyapong was transferred to the intensive care unit on 8 April, where she died four days later.

Other medical staff told the coroner they were satisfied with the care provided and said Ms Agyapong’s condition deteriorated rapidly.

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust chief executive David Carter said: 'Mary was a highly valued and loved member of our team and a fantastic nurse, and we still feel her loss.

'We are reassured that the coroner has found no areas of concern regarding our support for, or care of Mary, and I would like to pay tribute to our staff who did everything they could for her in hugely challenging circumstances.'


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