Whistleblowing nurse Lesley Roberts has highlighted one devastating blunder that she believes led to thousands of avoidable deaths during the Covid pandemic.
She is speaking out after receiving a “Restriction Order” from the Scottish Covid Inquiry that would prevent her from disclosing any of the evidence or documents she has submitted to the probe. Ms Roberts says she fears the impact will be to stop her and other campaigners from criticising the Scottish Government.
Ms Roberts, who was an infection control link nurse with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde at the start of pandemic as well as a workplace health and safety rep for Unison, has been an outspoken critic of the decisions taken by ministers and healthcare officials at the time.
She has reported the Scottish Government to Police Scotland and is calling for Nicola Sturgeon and Jeane Freeman to face corporate homicide charges. She has repeatedly highlighted the increased use of Do Not Resuscitate forms, especially around elderly or vulnerable patients with Covid-19.
Now – with the threat of a ‘gagging order’ looming from the inquiry – she wants to discuss what she sees as the most explosive part of the vast array of evidence she has gathered over the past three years.
It relates to the NG163 ‘end of life’ protocol from NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. It was issued to doctors and nurses across the UK on April 3, 2020 and remained in place until March 21, 2021.
According to Ms Roberts and other healthcare campaigners, NG163 essentially told medics to prescribe a deadly cocktail of powerful drugs to people in hospital and elsewhere who had been diagnosed with an advanced case of Covid-19.
She said: “It should never have been considered. People who were not at the end of their lives were brought to the end because of those drugs. If they had breathing difficulties then their breathing was being suppressed even further by the drugs and it was this that then killed them, not Covid.”
Just like the catastrophic decision to move elderly patients from hospitals to care homes, either without testing or sometimes even after they had tested positive for coronavirus, NG163 was controversial right from the start.
‘There is potential risk of unintended serious harm’
On April 20, 2020, 11 of the UK’s most senior consultants in palliative care medicine – including Barry Laird, from the University of Edinburgh and St Columba’s Hospice – wrote to the British Medical Journal to flag their concerns.
They said: “We fully understand why shortcuts to the normal NICE guideline procedure were necessary, in order to produce Covid-19 guidance rapidly. But we are concerned that uncritical use of NG163 may create unintended risks for people with suspected or actual Covid-19 infection.”
The guidance was based on previous NICE advice “aimed at care of people who were likely to die in the coming hours and days”. They added: “Many people in the UK who are suspected of having Covid-19 will not have advanced cancer or be dying from another existing terminal condition.”