COVID-19: Son of oldest NHS doctor to die with coronavirus calls for health workers to get vaccine first

·3-min read

The son of the oldest NHS frontline doctor to die after contracting COVID-19 says health and care workers should be the first to receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

Dr Anton Sebastian, 75, died on 4 April in the intensive care unit at Kingston Hospital in southwest London.

The consultant geriatrician, who qualified as a doctor in Sri Lanka in 1967, was the oldest hospital doctor to succumb to the virus last year.

His son Kevin told Sky News: "When you've got a frontline worker - a nurse or doctor going into those environments - at the very least you would hope they would be protected more than anyone in society.

"They are going to be worrying every day. Each time they go into work they will be worried about what they might be bringing home to their families.

"The vaccine has been seen as the answer and our frontline workers should get it first - no ifs, no buts."

NHS staff are in the second priority category for COVID-19 vaccines, behind care home residents and alongside people aged over 80.

In the scramble to vaccinate millions of people, difficult choices about who comes first and who must wait have surfaced.

Dr Sebastian's family say the government's decision to prioritise care home residents and staff above health workers will leave them vulnerable and at risk of catching the disease, especially given the emergence of the new coronavirus variant.

Kevin said: "Of course the elderly should be taken care of and we should prioritise them. It's a choice we shouldn't have to really make but there isn't enough capacity in terms of vaccination for both groups.

"I'm hoping the government will look into this and do something about it to prevent any other frontline worker losing their lives."

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has begun arriving at hospitals ahead of its rollout on Monday. NHS staff and social care workers who are at risk are among those who will vaccinated with the jab from next week.

But despite their frontline role, it remains unclear when all frontline workers will be vaccinated.

Kevin said: "We have to get as many people vaccinated as we can and not allow this to get any worst. I don't want anyone to experience what my family has gone through."

Dr Sebastian, who would have turned 76 this month, cared deeply about his patients and dedicated his career to the health service, an institution he spent his lifetime serving, his family said.

He trained at the Peradeniya Medical School in Sri Lanka and qualified in 1967. His late father was also a doctor and it was his passion that rubbed off on him.

Dr Sebastian - who was also known as Dr Sebastianpillai - loved cars, medical history, and most of all he enjoyed spending time with his wife and children, his family said.

Kevin added: "I sometimes question why my dad was on the frontline doing what he was doing at his age.

"He never got to retire and spend more time with his grandson but we are proud of him. He was the best parent you could ask for."