Thursday 9th July 2020
While the outbreak of COVID-19 has placed unprecedented pressure on the NHS, Public Health England's admissions data points towards a concerning trend of people avoiding hospitals out of fear of contracting COVID-19. While concerns around COVID-19 are understandable, by not receiving urgent treatments, patients may be putting their lives at risk.
Peter Cobley was treated by the team at Kings College Hospital, London during the outbreak. After receiving an echocardiogram, Peter was diagnosed with aortic stenosis and told that he needed urgent intervention. Before being diagnosed, Peter had experienced symptoms of breathlessness and dizziness, but after attributing them to signs of ageing, his aortic stenosis had deteriorated and become severe.
"Looking back, I can't believe how unwell I was. It's easy sometimes to explain away little changes, but those little changes add up and can create a big problem.”
While waiting for treatment, Peter was concerned about the impact of COVID-19. “People have asked me if I was worried about COVID-19, and I was. I didn't think I would be able to receive my treatment and was concerned about the big waiting lists that were building up, and then you factor in the fear of contracting it in the hospitals. But it got to the point where those concerns didn't matter, and I had to put my faith in the good hands of Professor MacCarthy and his team."
Once Peter and Professor MacCarthy had decided that TAVI was the most suitable treatment option for him, he was sent for a swab test for a COVID-19, before being discharged to his home where he waited to be taken to London Bridge Hospital for treatment.
"We decided to go forward with the TAVI treatment and then to avoid cross-contamination between hospitals they sent me home before my transfer to London Bridge. I knew that all precautions were taken to protect me and others. The staff at Kings College and London Bridge put my mind at ease, and I felt like I could focus on the treatment and getting better.”
Professor MacCarthy said “We always worry about patients with aortic stenosis on our waiting lists and we were particularly concerned about them when COVID-19 delayed things significantly. Thanks to the brilliant collaboration between the teams at King’s and the London Bridge Hospital, we have been able to design pathways to get patients like Peter out of isolation in his home to a safe, COVID-free environment, do his TAVI procedure and get him home safely – with the valve disease definitively treated.”
After being transferred to London Bridge, Peter received a TAVI, and after just two days he was able to be discharged back to his home and his family.
"I'm so grateful to Professor Phil McCarthy and Kings College Hospital for being so swift in my treatment. What can I say about my treatment? It was like a miracle. I've been calling myself 'Bionic Peter’ ever since they discharged me!! I didn't realise how much my symptoms were holding me back, and now I'm more active than ever, although I'm practising social distancing.’