Husband says ‘inhumane’ covid rules stopped him seeing dying wife

A husband who was unable to visit his dying wife in hospital has branded coronavirus restrictions ‘mean and inhumane’.

Heartbroken Craig Sunderland was left devastated after he was unable to see his wife Helen who died from pneumonia in hospital.

Helen, a former NHS auxiliary nurse, had been recovering in hospital but suddenly deteriorated and her husband was not able to see her before she died.

Craig, from Southowram, Halifax, had been his disabled wife’s carer for around three years until she was admitted to Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax on September 1.

He was unable to be at her side when she died nearly two weeks later, on September 13. The couple had been together for 23 years.

Helen and Craig Sunderland

Craig said: “On the day my wife died, if I so chose I could have gone to a cinema or pub which is a room full of strangers because it’s all in the pursuit of money it seems.

“We must step back and realise that the personal touches, the love and our humanity, are more important.”

Craig is calling for a “common sense” approach to dealing with visiting hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic and thinks each case should be looked at individually.

He called the current rules as ‘mean and inhumane’ as well as too restrictive.

He says being able to visit would have provided his wife some comfort.

Helen Sunderland

“I am not saying it would have changed the outcome but it would have been a better ending – her knowing that I was there.”

Craig said his wife found the visiting rules “difficult” to accept as she was also unable to see her twin sister, Pamela.

In those final two weeks in hospital, Craig saw his wife just once, on September 11, when it was thought she had just hours to live.

“I had to wear a Hazmat suit and I couldn’t hold her hand. Two hours later she woke up, looked at me and told me she loved me.”

He was unable to visit again as it was thought Helen was improving.

Helen and Craig Sunderland

Ellen Armistead, director or nursing at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, said she recognised the impact not being able to visit loved one was having on relatives.

“We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Mr Sunderland during this very difficult time.

“Our thoughts are with him and his family and we recognise the impact not being able to visit in these circumstances will have had on Mrs Sunderland’s loved ones.

“Our current visiting restrictions reflect the heightened restrictions in place in Calderdale and Kirklees and these are in place to ensure patients, relatives and staff are protected as much as possible and to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus in the hospital and onward to the community setting.

“We keep the restrictions under constant review as we absolutely recognise the importance of visiting for patients and families.  Where we have been able to relax restrictions we have done so.  

“Where patients are receiving end of life care then visiting is permitted. Sadly where a patient’s condition deteriorates rapidly or unexpectedly it is not always possible to put this in place. 

“Once again, our deepest condolences to Mr Sunderland and family at this sad time.”

YorkshireLive – Halifax