Oxford hospital worker, 56, dies after telling friends ‘porters like me…do not have PPE’

A popular hospital worker died from coronavirus after telling friends ‘porters like me and other admin staff do not have PPE’.

 ‘Gentle giant’ Peter Gough, 56, worked at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford as an administration assistant until his death from Covid-19 on May 12.

He told friend Paul Saville, 53, the hospital was the only place he could have caught the fatal virus, with Mr Saville describing his friend’s death as a ‘scandal’. 

Hospital porter Peter Gough died from Covid-19 on May 12. His friend of 25 years, Paul Saville, says his death is a ‘scandal’ after Peter told him he was not being given any PPE to wear

Just over a month before he died, Mr Gough and Mr Saville exchanged texts about the conditions at the hospital. 

On April 7 Mr Gough told his friend of 25 years: ‘No PPE  for admin staff. Not even sanitizer gel as not enough for everywhere in hospital.

‘Most of secretaries and mngt [management] now working from home. But most of us admin staff are needed in hospitals to do physical jobs.’

Mr Saville answered: ‘Blimey… That’s so bad.’

Mr Gough went on: ‘No PPE unless on Covid wards. So most staff are in not using PPE. San gels in Covid and other wards, and in main public areas.

‘But not in every one. So very careful what we touch and wash hands regularly.’

Mr Gough, known as ‘Goughy’, also shared a local newspaper story bout the death of two porters at his hospital from suspected coronavirus on April 11.

He wrote: ‘Porters like me and other admin staff do not have PPE. But we go around the hospital to do our jobs in the background.’

Bosses said the hospital had followed national guidance on giving staff PPE – but added those who do not have direct contact with patients are not considered to need it. 

Mr Saville, from Maidstone, Kent, got to know Mr Gough when they both worked at HMRC.

They had known each other for decades and played darts together.

He added: ‘You can clearly see a concern within the messages. Peter, in my opinion, died unnecessarily.

‘I cannot believe following the deaths of the porters others remained at risk. No PPE and outrageously no hand sanitiser. It’s a scandal.

‘Peter travelled to and from work in his car without stopping anywhere, he caught the virus clearly at the hospital.

‘Peter was always positive and just got on with things. I think that ended up costing him.’

He said that, aside from PPE and sanitiser, there should have been more effort put into enabling Mr Gough to do the majority of his admin work at home.

He added he Mr Gough’s wife and daughter, who he has been in contact with, wanted to ensure what happened to him was prevented in the future.

Mr Saville said there had also been an outpouring of grief among the darts community following news of his death.

He said: ‘The man was a gentle giant, never had a bad word to say about anyone – he did not need to die.’

He added that he last played with Mr Gough on April 22, the same day he was tested for COVID-19 – and remembers his friend telling him ‘you could be the last player I beat’.

Mr Gough was admitted to hospital on the April 30 and died on May 12. 

Terry Roberts, the hospital’s chief people officer, said: ‘Our thoughts at this very sad time are with Peter’s family, as well as with his friends and colleagues throughout the trust.

‘Peter spent his working life as a dedicated public servant, joining the NHS after a long period working at HMRC.

‘We are all grateful for his service. He will be missed.’

A statement from the hospital’s managing trust in response to Mr Gough’s messages said: ‘Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has followed national guidelines on appropriate levels of PPE throughout this pandemic.

‘PPE has been available to the staff whose contact with patients mean that they require it.

‘The levels of PPE are determined by the level of risk and exposure.’

John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford says it follows natinoal guidelines on the use of PPE, following the death of porter Peter Gough

John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford says it follows natinoal guidelines on the use of PPE, following the death of porter Peter Gough

It added: ‘Staff who do not come into direct contact with patients are not considered to need PPE.

‘All staff are regularly reminded about the need for social distancing and to wash their hands in line with national guidance.’

Public Health England’s current COVID-19 guidance for PPE is focused on those workers with direct contact with patients and states: ‘Staff should have access to the PPE that protects them for the appropriate setting and context.’

For non-clinical areas in hospitals, such as in communal areas and during work breaks, it stresses the need for social distancing.

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