by Jacqui Deevoy
When Barbara Clarke’s beloved husband Charles died in July 2021, a terrible grief took hold of her. The couple had been married for 55 years and, as Charles’ carer since he’d had a stroke few years previously, they were together pretty much 24 hours a day.
Son Stephen Clarke, 57, says: “Dad really wasn’t well and sadly on 27th July 2021 we lost him. Mum, as you can imagine, was devastated. They had been married for over five decades: she had lost the love of her life. I, along with my six siblings, had never seen her so sad and she took to her bed. She was like this for a couple of days and we became concerned. We reckoned it was it a case of Mum being broken-hearted. But, of course, we were worried that she may have been physically unwell too.”
According to Steve’s 54-year-old sister Deborah, until the death of their dad, Barbara was in great health. “Mum was incredible for her age – 76 – and was so full of energy, she’d have put many 40-year-olds to shame,” Deborah smiles. “She would happily jump on a bus from her home in Feltham to Shepherds Bush Market to buy her meat and fish without a problem!”
Barbara led a busy life and was always active. “Our house was never quiet,” recalls Steve. “She loved going to bingo and would often knock for a lift so she didn’t miss the first game. (I lived across the road, opposite the family home.) She would always be in a rush as she was caring for Dad, plus two of my brothers were still living at home. She made sure everyone was fed and watered and, in Dad’s case, clean before she left. Sunday was church day and that’s when the whole family would gather at her house for dinner. My partner Debbie often said ‘the only time I see your mum sitting down is when she’s eating!’ This was so true.”
The fact that Barbara was always busy made it all the more surprising that she’d taken to her bed. The family were worried so made a decision – on July 29th, two days after losing her husband – to call an ambulance to get her checked out.
Steve remembers that day well. “I was miles away working so started my journey to the West Middlesex Hospital, where my mum had been taken. I encountered so many problems trying to get home that afternoon… My vehicle is electric and the battery was running low. I tried about eight charging points, which were either being used or were out of order. I was so frustrated because all I wanted to do was get back to Mum. Suddenly I was stranded.
I called the AA and had to wait ages for assistance. While I was waiting, I heard from one of my siblings that Mum had been taken into hospital to be checked over; she had a slight temperature and there was a possibility she had a chest infection. Her SATs were good though, with oxygen levels at 99%. I felt confident that she’d be fine and would be home in no time. How wrong I was!”
Deborah continues: “It was decided that Mum was going to be kept in. The following day, we were informed that she had been moved to a Covid ward, none of us had been told she’d even been tested. We wondered what the hell was going on. Steve spoke to Mum on her first and second day at the hospital and she said she was feeling so much better and had no trouble breathing. She commented that there were people on the ward, single and double vaxed, coughing and spluttering all around her. She was expecting to be released that day. However, for reasons unknown to us, she was not allowed to go home and we later found out she was being given oxygen by way of a CPAP machine. We had no idea why. She had been able to hold a conversation with my brother earlier that day with no shortness of breath whatsoever!”
Steve and his sister Deborah decided that they wanted to be at the hospital. “Even if we couldn’t see her – and we were told we couldn’t because of the Covid restrictions – we wanted to be there,” says Steve. “So the two of us turned up, much to the obvious annoyance of the doctors and nurses.”
Steve did get to see his mother that day, albeit briefly. “At one point, I was standing at the nurse’s station and I could see Mum through a glass side panel next to the door,” he remembers. “I walked over to it and waved to her and she waved back at me. Next minute, I was shouted at by one of the doctors. ‘You can’t do that!’ she insisted. I was shocked and replied ‘I can’t do what, wave at my mum through a window? I was allowed to do it yesterday!’ She explained that she’d only allowed it the day before because I was so upset about the fact my dad had just died… Honestly, what she was saying made absolutely no sense to me… Who was I hurting by waving at my mum through a window? My mum was in a ward where the door was closed shut. Her reply was that it was due to the ‘risk of infection.’ ‘Seriously?’ I asked. ‘Through a door?’ That was when it struck me that the reason we were being kept away from my mum was so we couldn’t see what they were doing to her.”
Later that day, after Steve and Deborah had left the hospital, the hospital called to inform the family that Barbara had been put on morphine. “This rang alarm bells for us,” says Deborah, “and when I asked why, we were told that it was only a small dose to help with ‘an uncomfortable mask’! I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so ridiculous in my life!”
From that day on, the siblings noted that Barbara was incoherent. She’d also become bed-bound. Deborah spoke with the doctor and insisted she wanted her mother off the morphine. They felt better after that call as they believed the doctors would do as they’d been asked.
The following morning, however, the doctor called Deborah and asked for the family to come in at 3pm that day.
“My sister and I decided we were going to go at 1pm instead,” says Steve. “We had the suspicion that Mum would not be coherent if we went at 3pm – that’s why we went early. Even so, for some reason, I still had this awful feeling of dread.”
Once they got to the ward, Deborah put on a surgical mask and walked straight on to the ward where her mother was, only to discover that Barbara was still on morphine. She rushed back to tell Steve.
“My blood was boiling, I was so angry,” fumes Steve, still furious at the memory. “We demanded the morphine to be stopped immediately. The doctors and nurses were quite flustered and obviously annoyed that we had turned up earlier than we were told to but we didn’t care.”
It was then that Steve and Deborah were told that it was a “matter of time” and that their beloved mother was coming to the end of her life. “My heart broke right there and then,” Steve says. “Then I was angry all over again… I couldn’t believe what was happening! I felt like I was in a nightmare; I felt destroyed.”
At that point, the two doctors (Dr. Craig Leaper and Dr Hannah Eleanor Barrett), who were present at the time, intimated that the family meeting was over. But Steve and Deborah objected. “I told them that this wasn’t the family meeting,” says Steve. “I told them the family meeting was scheduled for 3pm and that that’s when the other siblings would be arriving. I could sense the doctors were irritated. But why? There was no empathy or understanding, just mild annoyance.”
At 3pm the rest of the family arrived and were all taken to a room where they were told again, that Barbara was ‘coming to the end of her life’. The seven siblings were baffled and horrified. As Steve remarks: “They didn’t know our mum at all and were viewing her as some kind of seemed housebound, decrepit old person and weren’t seeing her for what she was – a strong woman who’d cared for my dad for years, who’d been full of vitality until a couple of days prior. I was so angry, so hurt and so bloody sad – it felt as if my heart was breaking over and over again. I cried loudly and uncontrollably along with my brothers and sisters. Looking back now, I can remember how uncomfortable the two doctors seemed to be – they couldn’t look us in the eye, particularly Dr Hannah Barrett. Why? Their attitudes were awful, absolutely no compassion at all, so cold.”
Steve and Deborah both remember Dr. Leaper saying: “If you can learn anything from this, it’s to get you and your family vaccinated.”
The siblings were livid. “I’m not a violent man,” states Steve, “but when he said that, I wanted to punch him. How dare he?! Is that why my mum didn’t survive the hospital stay, because of her vaccination status? I believe it was. In fact, I have no doubts at all.”
After the meeting, the family accompanied Barbara as she was moved to a side ward and, with the morphine wearing off, she started to come round. The CPAP mask had been removed and oxygen was being administered via her nose. “The first thing she said to us,” recalls Deborah, “was ‘I’m hungry!’ Her mouth was so dry, her tongue was white and looked as though it had a layer of fur on it. She’d clearly had had no food or water for days. We got her a macaroni cheese and a pudding from the canteen and a pudding and she ate both. We also gave her water, which she did say tasted ‘like sh*t’! Is this the behaviour the of a woman coming to the end of her life? I don’t think so!”
Steve says that his mum then said ‘There’s nothing wrong with me – they’re trying to keep me here.’ She then went on to say she wanted to go home and gave me her full address. Later that night – on 8th August 2021, just 12 days after her dear husband died – my beautiful kind mum took her last breath, and my heart broke into a million pieces.”
The Clarke family wholeheartedly believes that Barbara was taken into hospital and treated for Covid using a protocol – probably NICE guideline NG163. They also believe that the fact she was unvaccinated was held against her. They say that because she was pumped with oxygen she didn’t need 24 hours a day her lungs were destroyed. And that she was given unnecessary doses of morphine for three days before she died. They also fitted a syringe driver to administer Midazolam. All this came to light after the family requested Barbara’s medical records.
Steve says: “Two years on and I’m still
angry. I can’t put into words how I feel about those two heartless doctors. I won’t leave it, I won’t forget about it. I intend to do my utmost to get justice. How I’ll get it, I don’t know but I’m a man of my word and I will keep going until I do.”
Deborah concludes: “There’s now absolutely no doubt in any of our minds that our lovely vibrant mum was murdered, euthanised by the people who were meant to care for her. And that’s something we can never forgive.”
Steve and Deborah Clarke appear in the new film ‘Playing God’. Find out more here: