Connect with us

Published

on

A 34-year-old father who has spent nearly five months in hospital after he almost died with COVID has told of his “blind panic” after the virus left him “gasping for air” - and he is urging the government to be cautious over the lifting of all restrictions.

Graham Horsfall has been a patient at Warrington Hospital since 16 January after contracting coronavirus during the peak of the second wave, and is still barely able to walk.

The IT consultant, who has no known underlying health condition, spent more than four months in an intensive care unit (ICU) and was told by medics he had just a 16% chance of survival.

Live COVID updates from the UK and around the world

Graham Horsfall spent more than four months in an ICU ward. Pic: Graham Horsfall
Image:
Mr Horsfall spent more than four months in an ICU ward. Pic: Graham Horsfall

As the government considers whether to stick with its plan to remove all COVID restrictions on 21 June amid a rise in cases linked to the Indian (Delta) variant, Mr Horsfall has urged ministers to continue with some measures including rules on face masks.

“I think they should be cautious,” he told Sky News.

“I wouldn’t just go: ‘Right okay, back to normal.’

More on Covid-19

“They could pick and choose things that could be relaxed a bit more, but also keep an eye on it.

“I think masks are here to stay for a long time… and they should be really.

“You’re not going to get rid of (the virus). It is going to come back again as it evolves and mutates as a disease.”

Graham Horsfall has urged the government to be cautious over the lifting of all restrictions. Pic: Graham Horsfall
Image:
Mr Horsfall has urged the government to be cautious over the lifting of all restrictions. Pic: Graham Horsfall

Mr Horsfall has urged people to take coronavirus seriously after challenging COVID conspiracy theorists about their views online – including members of his own family.

“I’ve got family members on Facebook saying it’s all a conspiracy and a government plot to keep us all indoors and reset the economy,” he said.

“People are losing people day in a day out. It’s affecting people long-term. It affects everybody in different ways.

“I’ve seen people on Facebook saying: ‘No one I know has had it.’ I message them and say: ‘Well now you do.'”

Mr Horsfall, who has a five-year-old son called Ollie and six-year-old daughter named Lily, began isolating at home in January after a colleague contracted COVID.

Graham Horsfall could not see his children, Lily, six, and five-year-old Ollie, for months after falling critically with COVID. Pic: Graham Horsfall
Image:
Mr Horsfall’s daughter Lily, six, and five-year-old son Ollie. Pic: Graham Horsfall

Three days later, he began coughing before his condition deteriorated and he started to “gasp for air”.

His wife Emma called for an ambulance and he was rushed to Warrington Hospital, where he continues to be treated today.

“All of a sudden I couldn’t breathe,” Mr Horsfall said. “It was really scary.

“At that point, they told me they’re going to have to put me on a ventilator because I need more oxygen.

“I am in blind panic at this point. The last thing I remember doing before they put me under was transferring money to my wife because it wasn’t looking good.”

Mr Horsfall’s wife and children were isolating themselves so they could not accompany him to hospital.

Graham Horsfall, who has spent nearly five months in hospital after contracting COVID, pictured with his wife Emma. Pic: Graham Horsfall
Image:
Mr Horsfall pictured with his wife Emma. Pic: Graham Horsfall

After arriving at hospital, he says he was hooked up to a ventilator and sedated.

“Basically my breathing was being done for me by a machine. It’s the only thing that kept me alive,” Mr Horsfall said.

“It’s just full on fear. It’s the unknown. Am I going to come out of this or am I not?”

Mr Horsfall said he only regained consciousness again in mid-February but he was “dazed and confused” and his condition quickly deteriorated.

He was given a tracheotomy and had to be sedated again before he awoke to find he was “literally paralysed” after suffering from muscle atrophy, meaning his muscles had wasted away.

“I could move one arm,” Mr Horsfall said.

“I couldn’t move my other arm, I couldn’t move my legs, I couldn’t move my torso. I was literally paralysed.”

Mr Horsfall, who could not talk due to his tracheotomy pipe, said he initially thought he has having an hallucination when he woke up before he was handed his phone so he could text his wife.

Graham Horsfall's wife Emma and their children Lily and Ollie. Pic: Graham Horsfall
Image:
Mr Horsfall was unable to see his children for months while in hospital. Pic: Graham Horsfall

He added: “One of the nurses turned around to me and basically said, based on the treatment I had…it had an 84% mortality rate – so 84% of people that had the same treatment as me, didn’t make it.

“It was a proper eye-opener.”

Mr Horsfall said seeing other COVID patients around him lose their lives was “harrowing”, including a man in his 20s who had recently become a father.

“You sit there thinking: ‘Bloody hell, it will literally take any age’,” he said.

“It’s not just taking the elderly, which people think.

“They would do their best to shield you from people passing away.

“Every time a curtain was shut, we knew someone had passed away on the ward. And that happened all the time.

“It’s harrowing for people. You make friends with people. Even though you couldn’t talk, you would give them a wave. And then all sudden that person’s gone.”

Mr Horsfall said his wife – who also caught the virus in January but only suffered mild symptoms – was unable to visit him when he first gained consciousness in mid-February due to the hospital’s COVID rules.

He added: “She was having to deal with the fact that she thought I was going to die while looking after our kids as well, which isn’t easy.

“She’s done amazing. Absolutely amazing. She’s doesn’t think she has, if you ask her, but she has – she’s done amazing.”

Mr Horsfall was only able to speak again after his tracheotomy pipe was removed on 12 March.

At that point, he was allowed to have one hour-long visit per week, with Mrs Horsfall required to wear full PPE and undergo temperature checks before seeing her husband.

However, Mr Horsfall had to wait until the start of May to see his children in person again when his daughter visited.

“That was emotional,” he said.

“It was a massive boost for me, mentally and physically, because it makes you push that bit harder. You take those extra couple of steps when you’re doing physio.”

Mr Horsfall said he was the last COVID patient on the ICU ward when he moved out on 25 May and he is now being treated on a respiratory ward.

He said his muscles had “rotted away” due to his lack of movement while in hospital and that he was now doing rehabilitation work and seeing a physio every day.

“I walk with a zimmer frame now, that’s how I get around,” Mr Horsfall said.

“Because of the COVID, probably the furthest I’ve gone without being out of breath is about 15 metres.

“Then you just get so breathless you have to sit down because your lungs are knackered due to COVID.

“There’s a lot of work to put in yet.”

Mr Horsfall does not know when he will be able to leave hospital but doctors believe he should be able to make a full recovery due to his age.

They are now considering whether he will be able to continue his recuperation at home in the future or in a rehabilitation centre.

“I’ve been here long enough,” Mr Horsfall said.

“I just want to be home to see my kids.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Health secretary on Indian (Delta) variant

He recently had his first COVID jab “to be on the safe side” because he fears he would not survive catching the virus again.

The health secretary says the Indian variant has made the decision about whether to lift lockdown restrictions on 21 June “more difficult” due to its higher rate of transmission.

Matt Hancock told Sky News the Delta variant was 40% more transmissible than the Kent (Alpha) strain, leaving the easing of social distancing in the balance for the original target date.

Ministers are “drawing up other options” before a decision is made on the 21 June easing, a government official told Sky News.

Continue Reading

UK

Prince Harry says Royal Family ‘without doubt’ withheld information from him on phone hacking

Published

on

By

Prince Harry says Royal Family 'without doubt' withheld information from him on phone hacking

Prince Harry has said the Royal Family withheld information from him about phone hacking because they didn’t want him to bring a claim as it would “open a can of worms”.

In a witness statement submitted before his civil claim against Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers, the Duke of Sussex said that he was “conditioned to accept” his family’s rule to “never complain, never explain” when dealing with the press.

But discussing phone hacking claims against News Group Newspapers, Harry said “I became aware that I had a claim that I could bring” in 2018.

Prince Harry v Daily Mail publisher – latest

“The Institution was without a doubt withholding information from me for a long time about NGN’s phone hacking and that has only become clear in recent years as I have pursued my own claim with different legal advice and representation,” he said.

Earlier in his submission he said he would refer to the Royal Family as “the Institution”.

The prince is among a group of claimants, including Sir Elton John, Liz Hurley and Sadie Frost, against Associated Newspapers accusing them of numerous breaches of privacy. The publisher denies all the allegations.

Speaking about how he found out other people within or associated with the Royal Family had brought phone hacking claims against the press, he says: “It is not an exaggeration to say that the bubble burst in terms of what I knew in 2020 when I moved out of the United Kingdom.”

More on Prince Harry

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Everything you need to know about Harry’s latest court case

He went on: “There was never any centralised discussion between us about who had brought claims as each office in the Institution is siloed.

“There is this misconception that we are all in constant communication with one another but that is not true.”

Read more:
Everything you need to know about the Duke of Sussex’s latest court case
Prince Harry’s unexpected High Court visit sends a message

The prince added: “The Institution made it clear that we did not need to know anything about phone hacking and it was made clear to me that the Royal Family did not sit in the witness box because that could open up a can of worms.”

He went on to say the Royal Family’s “strict no comment policy” meant that “even the worst or most suspicious articles were often never brought to my attention”.

Ending his written statement to the court, Prince Harry said he was “bringing this claim because I love my country and I remain deeply concerned by the unchecked power, influence and criminality” of the publisher.

“The British public deserve to know the full extent of this cover up and I feel it is my duty to expose it,” he added.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on Prince Harry’s remarks.

Continue Reading

UK

MI5 raises terror threat in Northern Ireland to ‘severe’ – meaning attack highly likely

Published

on

By

MI5 raises terror threat in Northern Ireland to 'severe' - meaning attack highly likely

The terror threat level in Northern Ireland has increased from “substantial” to “severe” meaning an attack is highly likely, the government has said.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris told the House of Commons that the decision was made by MI5, independent of ministers.

In a written ministerial statement he said: “MI5 has increased the threat to Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism from ‘SUBSTANTIAL’ (an attack is likely) to ‘SEVERE’ (an attack is highly likely).

“The public should remain vigilant, but not be alarmed, and continue to report any concerns they have to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).”

The cabinet minister said while Northern Ireland has transformed into a peaceful society since the Troubles, “a small number of people remain determined to cause harm to our communities through acts of politically motivated violence”.

He said recent months have seen an “increase in levels of activity relating to Northern Ireland Related Terrorism, which has targeted police officers” – pointing to the attempted murder of DCI Caldwell.

He went into pay tribute to the “tremendous efforts” of the police in Northern Ireland and security partners, “and the determination and resilience of the Northern Ireland people, who are making Northern Ireland a safer place to live and work”.

More from UK

“The political future of Northern Ireland rests with the democratic will of the people and not the violent actions of the few. Together we will ensure there is no return to the violence of the past.”

The UK has five terror threat levels which are:

Low – an attack is highly unlikely

Moderate – an attack is possible, but not likely

Substantial – an attack is likely – this is the UK’s national threat level

Severe – an attack is highly likely

Critical – an attack is highly likely in the near future

Last March the terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland was lowered from “severe” to “substantial”, marking the first reduction in 12 years.

The national threat level to the whole of the UK remains at substantial, meaning an attack is likely.

The change to Northern Ireland’s status comes ahead of a planned visit by US President Joe Biden to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which brought peace to the region after decades of violence.

Addressing the increased terror threat, Chief Constable Simon Byrne said it is part of an “ongoing process of monitoring the threat level in Northern Ireland, which is conducted by MI5”.

He added: “We will relentlessly pursue those who seek to cause harm and terrorise our communities, and attack my officers and staff, and I pay tribute to them as they continue to deliver for our communities.

“I would also like to thank the community and political leaders of Northern Ireland for their overwhelming support for the Police Service in recent times.

“We will not be deterred from delivering a visible, accessible and responsive community focused policing service to keep people safe.”

Continue Reading

UK

‘Corrosive’ bullying culture at ‘toxic’ NHS trust could put patient care at risk, probe finds

Published

on

By

'Corrosive' bullying culture at 'toxic' NHS trust could put patient care at risk, probe finds

A culture of bullying at one of England’s biggest NHS trusts could put the care of patients at risk, a report has found.

An independent review of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust (UHB) has found the number of patient deaths at the trust is higher than would be expected and has warned that “if the cultural environment at UHB has not already affected mortality it is likely to be affecting the patient experience and morbidity”.

The report revealed “extensive complaints” had been made by staff about the organisation’s conduct and that “many were concerned about the ‘toxic atmosphere and bullying at all levels of management'”.

It said the report team “heard many examples of concerning comments following a range of topics, including issues over promotion processes, bullying of staff (including junior doctors), and a fear of retribution if concerns were raised”.

It also highlights concerns around staffing levels. In November 2022, 13.35% of nursing posts at the trust were vacant, compared with an England average of 10%.

It warns that “any continuance of a culture that is corrosively affecting morale and in particular threatens long-term staff recruitment and retention will put at risk the care of patients”.

The report chaired by Professor Mike Bewick, a former deputy medical director at NHS England, who is now an independent consultant, was commissioned last year after a number of complaints were raised about the trust which employs 22,400 people across several sites and operates four major hospitals in the West Midlands.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Father of junior doctor: ‘Our lives stopped on 22 June’

It followed the death by suicide of Dr Vaishnavi Kumar, 35, who was working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham when she took a fatal overdose in June of last year.

“She wrote a letter,” her father, Dr Ravi Kumar, told Sky News. “She very clearly mentioned that she was doing this because of the QE hospital.”

After taking the overdose she waited three hours to call an ambulance. Her father says that when paramedics arrived “she said under no circumstances was she going to the QE hospital”.

Dr Kumar says his daughter was “bright, fun-loving and compassionate” but things changed soon after she began working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Dr Vaishnavi Kumar took her own life in June 2022
Image:
Dr Vaishnavi Kumar took her own life in June 2022

“She started facing this toxic environment and she started getting a bit more worried and tearful,” he said, adding sometimes when she returned from work she would say “people are belittling her and demeaning her”.

The report found there was “considerable unrest and anger at the trust’s response” to Dr Kumar’s death, both from her family and “the wider junior doctor community”.

It also found that “this was not the first death by suicide of a doctor at UHB”.

It revealed there was “disappointment and anger” from staff at a lack of senior representation by the trust at Dr Kumar’s funeral, and that the trust only formally wrote to her family two months after her death.

Shockingly, the report found a senior member of staff within medical staffing was unaware of Dr Kumar’s death and emailed the medic personally 26 days after her death to ask why she had been removed from her post and if she was still being paid.

The report concluded the case showed a need for “a fundamental shift in the way an organisation demonstrably cares about its staff as people”.

Dr Kumar’s father said: “It makes me angry and at the same time worried about other junior doctors who are going to follow her.

“Our lives stopped on the 22 June and it’s very hard. Each day is a struggle.

“Now my main worry is to stop it happening to others and that is why I want to bring this forward so people realise that there is a toxic atmosphere.”

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham said: “Dr Vaishnavi Kumar was a much loved and respected doctor, who was popular with colleagues and patients alike. Her unexpected death was a tragedy and our heartfelt condolences remain with Vaishnavi’s family.

“We have reflected on our response to Vaishnavi’s death, have learnt lessons from this, and are acting on them.

“Dr Kumar wants his daughter’s death to result in improvements in the support offered to all doctors in training and to see a change in the culture of the trust. We are pleased that he has agreed to work with the trust on this.”

Read more UK news:
Prince Harry turns up for phone-tapping and privacy court case again
Grocery inflation hits new record high – and the worst is yet to come
Only Fools And Horses star discovers daughter he never knew he had

Jonathan Brotherton, chief executive at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) said in response to the report’s findings: “Patients can continue to be confident that the care and treatment provided at our hospitals is safe. We are pleased that Professor Bewick’s overall view ‘is that the trust is a safe place to receive care’.

“We fully accept his recommendations and welcome the additional assurance that has been asked for through further independent oversight.

“There are a number of significant concerns that we need to, and have started to, address; we will continue to learn from the past, as we move forward.

“We want to develop a positive, inclusive work environment where people want to come to work, in a place that they are proud to work in, to do their very best for our patients. While we will not be able to fix things as quickly as I would like, we do need to do it as quickly as possible, for the benefit of patients and staff; I am committed to ensuring this happens.

“We must now focus on continuing to provide the best possible patient care, building a values-led culture and supporting our incredible colleagues.”

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.

Continue Reading

Trending