A CORONER has slammed a hospital trust after a vulnerable patient caught Covid-19 on a ward where beds were not socially distanced.

Senior coroner for Brighton and Hove, Veronica Hamilton-Deeley, has sent a rare Regulation 28 report for the prevention of future deaths to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, following the death of 78-year-old Brian Button last October.

The grandfather-of-three from Pevensey was admitted to hospital after a fall, but contracted coronavirus on the Catherine James ward within the Acute Respiratory Unit.

Ms Hamilton-Deeley ruled Mr Button's death was due to medical misadventure.

The Argus:

Her report, issued on February 12, states: "On October 29 the Catherine James Ward contained 13 beds. These beds are not socially distanced. A patient review confirms this.

"Mr Button contracted Covid-19 pneumonitis on the ward.

"While patients on the ward now have to wear masks (on a respiratory ward!) and there is much more regular and faster testing, the beds are still not socially distanced. As of today's date, there are still 13 beds on the ward.

"In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you and your organisation have the power to take such action."

Mr Button's son Warren, 54, told The Mirror that his father had been shielding since March last year and had been let down by the hospital.

He told the publication: “It’s beyond belief that something so simple as having beds two metres apart hadn’t been put in place. He was extremely vulnerable.

"He had been told that if you catch this virus, it will kill you.

"Why on earth did they put such a vulnerable man on an open ward? Visitors were allowed. It makes me really angry Dad was not in a private side room.”

The Argus:

A spokeswoman for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust said there are six beds and a side-room in the Catherine James ward, which sits within the Acute Respiratory Unit, where there is a total of 13 beds.

Rob Haigh, medical director at the trust, said: “Our thoughts and condolences go out to Mr Button’s family and friends.

"Throughout the pandemic patient safety has been front and centre of everything we do and our staff have worked incredibly hard throughout to maintain services, mitigate risks, and care for our patients.

"We manage our infection and prevention control approach in a consistent and systematic way in line with a wide range of national guidelines and recommendations.

"We have responded in detail to HM Coroner’s report outlining the steps and actions we have taken to ensure the safety of patients and staff.”