Husband’s plea for rapid testing so he can visit cancer-stricken wife
Bill Hudson, 65, can only make brief visits to Carol, 55, who is receiving palliative care for a second inoperable brain tumour.
He fears her final weeks following a six-year fight could be spent alone as normal visiting at East Lothian Community Hospital has been suspended and he is unable to be at her bedside.
Bill, a production journalist and talented musician, has urged authorities to act following expressions of public anger over Prince Charles’ access to a test when he contracted coronavirus.
He said: “NHS and care staff need to be tested first and clearly they need to be at the front of any queue. But it should then be made available for people like myself who are experiencing extreme circumstances. I won’t get a second chance at this. Carol is my life.
“If I did a test a situation could be arranged where I got to see Carol more. Even more crucial is that the people looking after her at the hospital or hospice know their status.
“Twenty minutes a week is no time at all to be with the person you love and it is made far worse in these terrible circumstances.
“Anyone with experience of cancer will understand when I say you would do anything in your power to help the person who is suffering. So the fact I can’t be near my wife when she needs me most is awful.”
He continued: “I saw Prince Charles had been tested very quickly and, while there was a very understandable reason, it was a bit galling.
“Our frontline workers should come first and I do not want to be treated as a special case and jump the queue, but testing should be allowed for those who are dealing with what is a life and death situation.
Bill said Carol, a former Crown Office legal secretary and mother-of-two, is trying to disguise how much the separation is upsetting her. He added: “It’s at the discretion of hospital staff and I know they are under pressure to protect themselves and patients.
“But by the time I get in and settle down with her for a chat the visit is almost over.
“I’m hoping against hope that these tests can get to the people most in need. I’m not doing this for me. She has close family who cannot visit. This is also for the others who are in the same situation.
“We do not know how much time we have left. No one can predict that. We cannot just wait for Covid-19 to pass – that’s a luxury which people in our situation don’t have.”
Bill hopes Carol can be transferred from the East Lothian Community Hospital to a hospice for respite care and believes that may lead to more regular, longer visits.
Dr Tracey Gillies NHS Lothian Medical Director, said: “We understand this must be a difficult time for the patient and their family and would wish to minimise any distress. We can’t comment on individual cases without patient consent.
“We urge the family member to contact the senior charge nurse at the hospital to discuss their concerns. In the current situation visiting is assessed on individual patient needs.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has spoken before about how the “cruel” virus keeps families apart at the most difficult times, and has admitted first thing she wants to do once the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted is to hug her parents.
Professor John Newton, director of public health improvement for Public Health England, has insisted the Government’s pledge to carry out 100,000 tests per day by the end of the month is “realistic”.
He told Channel 4 News: “It is realistic. We have some really good progress. We’re using tried and tested technology, this is not innovation - it’s massive, industrial-scale rollout of these three big mega-labs in Milton Keynes, Manchester and Glasgow.
“And they are already delivering tests – many thousands of tests a day – and we are really looking forward to seeing that number go up soon.”
Scotland’s First Minister was speaking in an interview, the SNP leader sounded emotional as she shared how much she was looking forward to seeing her relatives in person again.
“Like most people, I’m trying to keep in touch with my family over FaceTime and Skype.” she said. “But giving my mum and dad a hug, and hug my niece and go and wish my nephew a proper happy birthday, see my mother-in-law who’s in a particularly vulnerable position …
The pandemic could bring perspective to the people of Scotland when the lockdown is eventually lifted, the First Minister claimed.
She said: “I don’t want to get too trite and clichéd here, because it’s easy to do that, but it’s never been truer that we’re actually all in this together.
“If we keep pulling together and looking out for each other and doing the right things then, without trying to put a silver lining on a really big cloud – because it is a big cloud – we might just come out of this with a renewed sense of what really matters in life.”