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Colleagues of pregnant nurse who died with Covid to give evidence at her inquest

By PA News

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Mary Agyapong with her partner Ernest Boateng (Family handout/PA)

Senior colleagues of a heavily pregnant nurse who died with coronavirus after her baby was delivered will be asked to give evidence into her death following concerns from her family.

Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong died on April 12 this year having been admitted to Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, where she worked, suffering from a shortness of breath.

The 28-year-old’s partner Ernest Boateng said she was initially discharged from the hospital on April 5 before being readmitted two days later with coronavirus symptoms, at 35 weeks pregnant.

Surgeons safely the delivered baby, also named Mary, by caesarean section before Ms Agyapong was transferred to the intensive care unit where she died.

The preliminary cause of death was given as pneumonia and Covid-19.

A pre-inquest review at Bedfordshire and Luton Coroner’s Court on Wednesday briefly outlined concerns Mr Boateng had about the decision to discharge Ms Agyapong from hospital on April 5, and the conditions at her work while she was pregnant.

Emma Whitting, senior coroner for Bedfordshire and Luton, told lawyers representing Ms Agyapong’s family, the hospital trust, and the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch that witnesses including senior members of the discharge team and the mother of two’s line manager or equivalent were likely to be required to give evidence.

The coroner adjourned the hearing until a further pre-inquest review in January, with the inquest continuing over three to four days in March.

Earlier, she told Mr Boateng, who watched on video link: “I want to start by expressing my condolences for the loss of Mary.

“I have seen pictures of her and read a little bit about her in the press, and I can only imagine what a hole she’s left in your life and the lives of your family members and her colleagues.”

Ms Agyapong’s death followed that of 55-year-old consultant Amged El-Hawrani, who became the first frontline NHS hospital worker to die on March 28 after testing positive for coronavirus.

Mr Boateng previously said his wife, originally from Ghana, should not have been working at the hospital at the start of the pandemic as she had entered the third trimester.

But the hospital said it did not have any coronavirus patients before she took maternity leave.

David Carter, chief executive of Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, described Ms Agyapong as “a highly valued and loved member of our team, a fantastic nurse and a great example of what we stand for in this trust”.

Suzanne White, representing Mr Boateng as head of clinical negligence at legal firm Leigh Day, said: “Our client, Ernest Boateng, has lost his partner, and two small children have lost their mother.

“Hopefully any pressures that led to that working situation will be made clear and it will be fully understood if they had any bearing on Mary’s death.”

A crowdfunding campaign for the couple’s two children – including young son AJ – has raised almost £200,000.

Colleagues paid tribute to Ms Agyapong, who also went by her married name Mary Boateng, on the GoFundMe page.

Renai Mcinerney wrote: “Sister Mary was my colleague, I worked alongside her for a few years. She deserves her family to be looked after, after she devoted her life to the NHS as a nurse.”

Caitlin Green posted: “So sorry to Mary’s family and friends for her loss. She will live on in her beautiful baby girl.”

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