Thomas Harvey and our essential workers

“As kids we got used every Christmas to opening our gifts in the evening. He [Thomas Harvey] would work every holiday because a lot of his patients didn’t have any family. It was just to make sure they weren’t lonely around those times as we had each other. That’s the kind of person he was.”

Said his son Thomas, interviewed by the Hackney Gazette on 2 April 2020 ‘The government let down my dad’: NHS nurse’s son asks why he was never tested or given hospital treatment after catching fatal coronavirus

On the 7 April 2020 Channel 4 news interviewed Thomas’s family and reported on the dire conditions of our hospitals that did not have the personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect NHS staff and other essential workers from covid-19 – listen below.

Thomas Harvey a nurse at Goodmayes Hospital in London for 20 years died from covid-19 at home on 29th March. His children reported on Channel 4 news on 7th April

His children had dialled NHS 111 four times and were told that their dad should stay at home. On the second or third call an ambulance turned up in reponse and assessed Thomas, only to say that he was not ill enough to be taken to hospital.

Don’t blame the ambulance staff, they had been briefed.

About the same time another essential worker was admitted to hospital, he stayed in an ICU to monitor his health just in case intervention was required, oxygen, a ventilator.

Surely Thomas should have received the same care that Boris Johnson got?

This is the stark reality of inequality, and even starker for black people like Thomas.

Thomas and his family were let down. As we moved on into April, May, June, we saw many other health and social care workers and their families let down.

As time went on and the statisticians got working and we were told that black people are 4 times more likely to die from covid-19 than white people. This is not because white people have white skins and black people have black skins, it is because of systemic racism.

From March and the coming months, hundreds of NHS staff, social care workers, bus drivers and other essential workers died from covid-19. They worked during the covid-19 pandemic lock-down, but did not have the PPE to protect them from contracting the virus. A disproportionate number were from Black, Asian and Minority Ethinic backgrounds.

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