BBC Panorama explores the coronavirus fears of some of the UK’s most vulnerable
Missing out on vital care and being pushed to the back of the queue for life-saving treatment are concerning the 1.5 million Britons most vulnerable to contracting coronavirus, according to a new programme.
The BBC TV Panorama documentary team has spoken with people including cancer patients and those with compromised immune systems about their biggest fears amid the pandemic.
Nic Murray was diagnosed with terminal Stage 4 bowel cancer a year ago and is currently self-isolating with his wife Danielle, and two-year-old son, Ezra.
His chemotherapy has been stopped for the next three months because it increases his risk of catching coronavirus.
In an inteview conducted through a window, Mr Murray said of the prospect of dying: “I’m not ready yet and I feel that potentially having this treatment taken away, it’s stealing some time. I haven’t got a lot.”
Recently published ethical guidelines suggest terminally ill patients may be treated as low priority as health services concentrate on dealing with coronavirus cases.
In response, Mr Murray said: “In the worst-case scenario if I was to become affected, there’s a shortage in ventilators, I’m probably going to be at the back of the queue, knowing that this guy’s not got much longer anyway.”
Mr Murray has not been told by the Government if he is classed as one of the most vulnerable.
He believes this is because only one million out of the 1.5 million at risk people have been notified.
He said: “At the moment we’re really struggling to get food deliveries. All the websites are either down or you can only log on if you’re classed as vulnerable.”
In response, the Government told Panorama that people should speak to their doctor.
The programme also spoke to former Britain’s Got Talent contestant Paula Moulton.
Ms Moulton has complex medical needs and relies on support from carers who come twice a day.
“The first hint about how bad it was going to get was when I got told by my GP that, ‘you do realise that if you get this bug it will kill you?’,” Ms Moulton said.
“There wasn’t any ‘if, buts or maybe’, this will kill you if you get it.”
She is concerned about what will happen if her support team contract the virus.
Ms Moulton said: “What if the carers can’t come in? Because if the carers don’t come in I can’t get up.”
Another of those most at risk is five-year-old Ted, who has cystic fibrosis and has been told to stay at home to ‘shield’ from coronavirus.
He is living with his mother, Fiona, in their family home whilst his older siblings have gone to stay with grandparents.
His father is living in a caravan at the bottom of the garden so he can go and get food and medicine.
The family celebrated Ted’s fifth birthday through the window as they were not able to be together.
Ted’s mother Fiona said: “It could very, very easily be life threatening for someone like Ted. As a mother it makes you feel like there’s not a lot you can do, really.
“I’m terrified of what’s going on. I’m frightened because it doesn’t even bear thinking about.”
BBC Panorama Coronavirus: The Most at Risk is shown at 7.30pm on BBC One.
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