CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Couple died a week apart from Covid after 60 years of marriage

Complaint filed at Whittington Hospital over care

25 March, 2021 — By Tom Foot

John and Maureen Morgan were buried on the same day

A COUPLE who were married for 60 years were buried at the same funeral after dying within a week of each other from Covid-19.

John Morgan, 81, and wife Maureen, 83, died at the Whittington Hospital – a ward apart – after both were admitted with the coronavirus.

This week, on the anniversary of the first national lockdown, their son told how the virus tragedy had struck the family and the concerns they have about how their care was handled.

Jason Morgan said: “You don’t expect to lose both your parents in a week.”

The couple, who had first met as children playing in Rochester Mews, Camden Town, died in January, just two months after receiving a letter from the Queen celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.

Both had vaccination appointments booked for the week after they passed away. An official complaint has been made to the Whittington on the basis that Mr Morgan was discharged home under a community care scheme while still having the infection.

He was sent home to his wife who he had been caring for as she shielded for a year.

Both were then ­taken back to the hospital days later where they fell seriously ill with the coronavirus.

John and Maureen first met as children playing in Camden Town – and last year celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary

Jason said: “I don’t want to badmouth hospitals or the NHS – they have done such a brilliant job – but I’m so angry, because everything has been mucked up from day one with us.”

He added: “Dad was incredibly fit for his age and independent, but Mum had underlying health conditions.

“She never went out at all for the whole year, only to appointments. How could they discharge him back to her when he had Covid?”

To free up bed space, the Whittington has been operating a community care system in which some Covid patients have been discharged home with health workers assigned to check up on them in daily visits.

Maureen and John Morgan

Jason said: “I can see it’s a good system to do that because there was such pressure on beds, but only if my mum wasn’t in the position she was in. You are told to go home and self-isolate – but that wasn’t really an option because he was the one caring for her.”

Maureen died on ­January 19, while her husband passed away a week later on January 26. Jason said the joint funeral had been made more difficult as double time was not allowed for the service in the chapel at the cemetery in East Finchley.

He said he was amazed to discover he was being charged £2000 for his mum by the cemetery and “half price” £1000 for his dad. “Why were they charging me £1000 for dad, what extra were they doing. We already had a plot. They were digging the grave and filling it back in anyway.”

The Morgan family have many relatives ­living around Camden Town, Kentish Town and Somers Town. John had worked as a builder and upholsterer for most of his life in Camden, including a job at Central Shopfitters in Rochester Place.

Later, he was a caretaker at the Arch Elm Co-operative in Holloway.

Maureen worked as a bookkeeper for Marks & Spencer in Marylebone and later for E & H Lewy in Parkway.

In their later years, they moved to Manor House – Maureen became the treasurer of the community centre on the Woodberry Down estate – but continued to come to Camden to do their shopping at Morrisons in Chalk Farm, as well as enjoying a drink at the Old Eagle and Pineapple pubs.

And each week they would go for pie and mash at Castles in Royal College Street. Maureen had grown up around Rochester Mews, while John lived in Pancras Way.

Jason said: “I made the application for the letter [from the Queen] on their 60th wedding anniversary. It was funny when it came because my dad had known the postman at the sorting office in Archway for donkeys’ years. You get a special delivery with these anniversary letters, and it meant Dad got a knock on the door from his mate saying ‘I got a ­letter here from the Queen’.”

In the eulogy for his mother, Jason said: “Mum loved to have her cigarettes, she wasn’t going to give them up for no one – even when they brought in the smoking ban she used to lock the doors in the community club and laugh to herself knowing it was wrong. Mum had a very cheeky grin that made us all smile.”

His father, meanwhile, liked to go with one of his friends, a school caretaker, to raise ­homing pigeons.

“They would take them out into the sticks and set them off, and they would come back to the roof,” said Jason.

The couple also liked to go on mini-cruises to Norway to see the fjords, where their other son lives.

On top of his questions about why his father was discharged home to live with his wife, Jason claimed John had been treated in a “disrespectful” way, adding: “They screwed his clothes up and broke his chain. His stuff was handed to me through a door in a ­horrible green bag.”

A spokesperson for Whittington Health NHS Trust said: “We’re deeply sorry for the loss that Mr Morgan and his family have suffered and that he has had a reason to complain about the care that his parents received. “We are investigating the issues raised by this case and we will be ­contacting Mr Morgan directly as soon as ­possible to discuss his complaint.”

The couple had four children, Lee, John, Jason and Craig; four grandchildren, Kelly, Zoe, Jonathan and Kari Louise; and two great-grandchildren, Bella and Luna.

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