Pensioner in hospital caught Covid after missing appointment for booster

The family of a pensioner who caught Covid while being cared for at University Hospital Wishaw say more needs to be done to protect vulnerable patients.

Despite having already had both doses of a vaccine, Kathleen Higgins from Craigneuk tested positive for the virus while in Ward 3 at the hospital.

The 73-year-old was diagnosed with vascular dementia around a year ago and has been in hospital since September.

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Her husband Louis said: “Kathleen has good days and bad days and she thinks she is getting out of the hospital.

“It’s really heartbreaking. I had her here at home for about two years and it was really hard going.”

The couple were both due to have their Covid-19 boosters and flu vaccinations on the same day in October.

Louis received his but Kathleen missed her scheduled appointment, despite him providing the hospital with details of his wife’s appointment beforehand.

Louis continued: “Kathleen should have got her booster the day I got mine six or seven weeks ago and this might not have happened. I took the appointment letter into the hospital and handed them it. They said they would see to it but it never happened.”

The couple’s daughter Catherine Johnson, 49, has written a letter to Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf questioning why her mum didn’t receive her Covid-19 booster and flu jags at the same time as her dad in October.

The letter also highlighted that the politician had urged the most vulnerable in society to come forward to receive their booster. Catherine, who lives in Overtown, and her dad have questioned why Kathleen and other vulnerable patients in the ward did not receive boosters before they were infected.

“We weren’t able to see her for three weeks and it was a real worry with this new variant going around,” Louis admits. “There are 16 patients in that ward who are all vulnerable.”

In the letter Catherine praised ward staff for the “perfect” care they continue to provide her mum: “This is in no way a complaint about the staff on the ward as they have been absolutely perfect. But they cannot advise us when mum and the other patients who are extremely vulnerable will get their jags.”

Pensioner in hospital caught Covid after missing appointment for booster
Kathleen Higgins caught Covid while in University Hospital Wishaw

Thankfully, Kathleen, a former school teacher at St Ignatius Primary is recovering from the illness and the ward which was closed for a time to visitors reopened earlier this week.

However, in her communication to the Health Secretary Kathleen’s also questioned the logic in reopening the ward before the patients were given their booster shots, which still hasn’t happened.

Both Louis and Catherine say more needs to be done to ensure high levels of protection for the most vulnerable.

Louis added: “They are firing it in to young ones’ arms that are half Kathleen’s age.

“The whole ward is over 70 years old. An hour and they could vaccinate the lot of them.

“It’s not the fault of the nurses and the staff on the ward they have been really good, we are in now way complaining about them. It’s the way it’s being managed.”

Ross McGuffie, chief officer, Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire, said: “Due to patient confidentiality, we cannot discuss individual cases.

“We regret any instance where someone feels we have failed to provide the highest standard of care. We have a complaints process via our patient affairs team and we would always encourage anyone to contact us in this way if they wish to raise any concerns to allow them to be fully investigated.

“The safety of our patients is of paramount importance and we would like to reassures everyone that we take all necessary infection prevention and control measures within our hospitals.

“We urge the public to do all they can to minimise the risk of spreading infection – take regular lateral flow tests, especially before you socialise, continue to wear a face covering, maintain good hand hygiene, ventilate rooms and get your vaccine.”

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