Queen's Birthday Honours list: Carer who held hand of patient as he died alone left 'angry' over COVID rule-breakers

·3-min read

A young carer awarded in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for looking after patients dying alone during the pandemic says he was left "angry" by people breaking COVID rules.

Alex Griffiths says the measures to stop the spread of the virus were meant to be followed "no matter your political, economic or social standing" and they were for "the betterment of everyone".

The 22-year-old, from Dudley in the West Midlands, held the hand of one elderly patient and talked to him as he passed away because COVID rules prevented the man's family from being at his bedside.

Mr Griffiths, who is receiving a British Empire Medal for services to the NHS, said he found it "hard" to leave his shifts at Russells Hall Hospital during the coronavirus crisis because he knew some patients would not survive through the night.

He told Sky News: "You'd come to the end of your shift and you'd be exhausted from 12-and-a-half hours on your feet, running around in PPE, but then you almost don't want to leave.

"You'd hear of a patient who was there one evening and then not there in the morning - there's somebody else in that bed.

"During COVID that was a regular occurrence.

"You'd come in and you would have two or three new patients and you didn't have to ask why, because unfortunately you knew why."

Mr Griffiths, one of the youngest recipients on this year's honours list, has cared for his mother Sharon, who has multiple sclerosis, since the age of five.

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He began an apprenticeship as a clinical support worker at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley in September 2019, where he went on to help in COVID wards.

The work involved end-of-life care, supporting seriously ill patients in what could be their last moments.

He said relatives of patients "were happy to know there were people in the hospital who genuinely cared".

"That's all you want at the end of the day - for your family member to be looked after," Mr Griffiths added.

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On people breaking COVID rules during the pandemic, he said he had a "bit of an angry rant" on social media after one "particularly long, bad shift".

He said: "I can understand why people were doing it because people were sick and tired - everybody was sick and tired of what was happening - but there was a purpose for it, there was a benefit to it."

He added: "No matter your political, economic, social standing - we're all people at the end of the day, we're all in the same boat, that boat has got holes in it, and every time somebody goes out and breaks the rules, it's just adding more holes.

"Regardless of where you fit on the social ladder, the rules are there for a reason and it's for the betterment of everyone, not just the few."

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