A pregnant nurse who died from coronavirus shortly after being discharged from hospital was “unhappy” about the decision to be sent home, an inquest has heard.
Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong, who was suffering from breathlessness and fatigue, was told by Dr William Manning that she should leave the emergency department of Luton and Dunstable University hospital because she did not require oxygen.
Speaking at the inquest at Bedfordshire and Luton coroner’s court on Tuesday, Manning said he believed the 28-year-old had coronavirus at the time but was concerned about her being in the hospital, where there was an increasing number of Covid-19 patients.
He made the decision on 5 April 2020 and Agyeiwaa Agyapong, a specialist diabetes nurse, who was originally from Ghana, was readmitted two days later. She gave birth to a daughter and died in intensive care on 12 April.
Giving evidence on Tuesday, Manning said: “At the time, if a patient did not require oxygen therapy, they didn’t require admission to hospital. I decided she should be discharged.”
He added that his decision also took into consideration that she apparently had a follow-up appointment booked with the obstetrician the next day.
He told the inquest: “Mary was in an area of the department with a lot of Covid patients. I said I suspected she had Covid and I explained we only admitted to Covid [if there was] a need for oxygen. She didn’t seem particularly happy to go home.”
“She didn’t feel well, she had a fever and didn’t feel good but didn’t offer me a specific reason why she was unhappy with my plan.”
Manning also said he was unaware at the time of any suggestion coronavirus disproportionately affected people from ethnic minorities.
Agyeiwaa Agyapong’s husband, Ernest Boateng, said he was surprised his wife was initially discharged from hospital, hours after collapsing at home. He said: “When I saw her [after being discharged], she looked absolutely appalling.
“I could not believe that she had been discharged from the hospital in her state as she was so poorly.”
Boateng has previously spoken about the grief of losing his wife and his campaign to find answers. “I was completely lost [after she died],” he said. “I had this lovely, cute baby girl, but her mum was not around, she was gone. I had to try and pick up from where we left off and just get on with the journey.”
He wrote to Boris Johnson last year, urging the prime minister to make it a legal requirement for employers to allow all pregnant women who pass 20 weeks gestation to work from home or be suspended on full pay.
The inquest into Agyeiwaa Agyapong’s death was adjourned until Wednesday.