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18 February 2022

Mark Woolcock inquest to open: death of NHS front line worker following exposure to Covid-19 at Newham University Hospital

2 mins

Mark Woolcock died from Covid-19 in the early weeks of the pandemic on 20 April 2020 at Newham University Hospital, following suspected exposure to Covid-19 patients whilst he was working for Barts Health NHS Trust as an ambulance care assistant.

Mr Woolcock was a 59-year-old man living in Stratford, London. His family describe him as a nurturing and gentle soul, who was warm, loving and liked a good joke.

Mr Woolcock died in the same hospital that he had worked at for over seventeen years in Non-Emergency Patient Transport Services (NEPTS) as an ambulance care worker. His job involved caring for and transporting patients discharged from Newham University Hospital to their homes and/or care homes. As part of this role, he should not have come into contact with suspected or Covid-19 positive patients.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has already examined the death and found multiple breaches of the law by Barts Health NHS Trust, including that there was no suitable and sufficient system for assessing the Covid-19 status of patients being discharged from hospital prior to them being allocated to a patient transport service and that there was no specific risk assessment for the hazard posed by Covid-19 to staff working in the NEPTS.

The inquest will examine Mr Woolcock’s potential exposure to Covid-19 patients at work, and the systems in place at Barts Health NHS Trust to keep him and other employees safe at the start of the pandemic. It will also explore Mr Woolcock’s treatment once he was admitted to hospital. The family have particular concerns about whether Mr Woolcock was repeatedly exposed to Covid-19 and the levels of exposure at work.

This is an important case as it is one of the few cases involving NHS workers that has reached an inquest hearing. The inquest will independently scrutinise the circumstances surrounding Mr Woolcock’s exposure to Covid-19.

Contact

For further information, interview requests and to note your interest, please contact the Bindmans LLP Press Office on 020 7833 4433 or press@bindmans.com.

The family is represented by partner Anna Thwaites of Bindmans LLP, and Counsel Adam Wagner of Doughty Street Chambers.

Other Interested Persons represented include Barts NHS Foundation Trust and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

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