Colleagues of a Watford General Hospital worker who died from Covid-19 believe his death could have been prevented.

"Selfless" father-of-two Khalid Jamil, 57, died on April 14 after spending three days in intensive care at Watford General.

Six days before going into intensive care at Watford General, Mr Jamil had been sent home from work after feeling unwell.

Now a group of Mr Jamil's colleagues are blaming the management of personal protective equipment (PPE) for his death.

Workers have said that the healthcare assistant, who had been with West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust since 2006, had treated two Covid patients without protection.

However, the hospital trust, which runs Watford General Hospital, has denied this claim.

According to those who worked with Mr Jamil, he was told to continue working with no health risk assessment to evaluate his health conditions.

One worker has said Mr Jamil was diabetic and had high blood pressure.

The worker said: "He was diabetic and suffered massive blood pressures, and we all looked after him.

"He should have had a risk assessment done. If a member of staff has underlying issues there should have been an assessment."

However, we have been told that Mr Jamil, described by his colleagues as one of the most "kindest and gentle people you could meet", did not formally a request for a risk assessment as "he never raised his voice".

Colleagues say they raised concerns with senior staff at the trust after Mr Jamil's death, pointing towards a lack of PPE.

A worker said: "Every time we bring something up, we’re told it’s not the trust’s fault.

"We all said it was their fault because he didn’t have PPE and wasn’t risk assessed."

Another worker added: "Some of the staff were venting towards management about Khalid. Staff told them he got it (coronavirus) from shopping."

Another concerned worker added: "They (the trust) told us he was a poorly person. If he was such a poorly person why was he not protected?"

Another worker who also had a health condition said that their ward manager did not prompt them for an assessment and she had to go out of her way to prove that she'd be at risk in a coronavirus ward.

While the workers were in agreement that PPE circumstances have improved, there is still concern over how it is handled.

One person said: “I think you feel pressured to do your job, they put pressure in making you feel guilty because you all care - you’re nursing for a reason and you know people are dying.”

Other workers have described being deployed to a coronavirus-positive ward with masks that did not fit properly.

They said they felt unsafe but were still pushed to work unless they “kicked up a fuss”.

Workers say there have also been recurring incidents involving bins overflowing with gowns that are not regularly cleaned up, or workers being provided masks past their expiry date.

Watford Observer:

Medical masks provided by the government were past their expiry date.

Watford Observer:

Bins for used medical gowns were overflowing at the hospital.

However, the workers are not entirely critical of the trust. One person concluded: “I’m not denying that their roles aren’t pressured due to Covid-19, but at the end of the day we are human beings and we should all keep each other safe.

“Staff aren’t saying we don’t want to work in a Covid ward, staff aren’t saying we don’t want to look after people - staff are saying we want to feel protected and cared about.

“We’re doing all this caring, but you don’t feel the care back.”

NHS England issued a letter to health trusts yesterday advising that people of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds should be risk assessed, over concerns that such workers are “disproportionally affected" by Covid-19.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust deny the allegations made about the circumstances behind Mr Jamil’s death.

Chief people officer at the trust, Paul da Gama, said: "We were deeply saddened by Khalid’s death and send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

"We provide risk assessments for all staff and we expect colleagues who may have underlying health issues, of which we may be unaware, to alert us to these so additional assessments can be made.

"At the very start of the pandemic we issued guidance around the management of vulnerable staff based upon national guidance. We are currently investigating the precise circumstances of Khalid’s working environment before he contracted Covid-19.

"Our teams also work extremely hard to ensure that staff are kept safe with the appropriate level of protective equipment."

The hospital trust has set up a memorial, Team West Herts Sanctuary, at Vicarage Road stadium next door.

This memorial recognises the lives of six people who have died during the coronavirus pandemic, who were either working or were formerly working at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust.