Hospital group ‘gravely concerned’ over Covid-19 misinformation

Recent video shows Covid-19 patient encouraged to leave hospital by activist

Medical staff can be heard in the video warning the patient about the risks of leaving the hospital, stating they were worried about his condition. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Medical staff can be heard in the video warning the patient about the risks of leaving the hospital, stating they were worried about his condition. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Saolta Healthcare Group has said it is “gravely concerned” by a number of recent incidents in which groups of activists have attempted to spread disinformation about Covid-19 at hospitals.

In recent days a Covid-19 patient was encouraged to leave Letterkenny General Hospital by an activist, who filmed the interaction in the hospital, with the video later posted on social media.

In the video, the activist said he was “rescuing” the man, and falsely claimed treatment in the hospital would “kill” the patient.

Medical staff can be heard in the video warning the patient about the risks of leaving the hospital, stating they were worried about his condition.

One staff member told the man that leaving the hospital would risk “endangering” his life. “It’s a very difficult disease that you have, and I’m not lying to you, you could die, but this could be your best chance in the hospital,” the staff member told the patient.

A source confirmed the incident took place in the Donegal hospital in recent days.

In a further video, which appeared to be taken after leaving the hospital, the patient stated he had been admitted late last week with Covid-19.

The man said he had been told he would require treatment on a ventilator by medical staff, which he said he would not allow.

In a statement, Saolta Healthcare Group, which covers Letterkenny University Hospital, confirmed it was aware of two recent incidents where groups had attempted to spread disinformation about Covid-19 at its hospitals.

It is understood the second incident relates to a series of videos filmed by activists outside Mayo University Hospital and shared on social media.

A spokeswoman for the Saolta Group said it had “grave concerns about the impact of this type of activity on both patients and staff”.

“The deliberate spreading of disinformation and at times defamatory comments against named staff members along with the posting of these videos on social media platforms is adding significantly to the burden already facing healthcare professionals,” she said.

The spokeswoman said the hospital group could not comment directly on the individual case in Letterkenny General Hospital, in order to maintain patient confidentiality.

“While Saolta endeavours to facilitate patient visiting when possible, incidents like this are highly disruptive and upsetting in clinical settings,” the spokeswoman said.

Any visitors in the healthcare group’s hospitals must be pre-arranged and were facilitated at the request of patients, she said.

Visitors were required to wear face masks and complete a Covid-19 screening checklist prior to entry.

“If any member of the public fails to follow these guidelines while on site they are asked to leave the hospital,” she said.

The hospital group encouraged people to trust information about Covid-19 from reputable sources, and follow public health advice provided by the Government and Health Service Executive.