Daily Mail

Families who fought back

They all tested negative. Yet all officially ‘died of Covid’ – and shockingly, became a statistic . . . their bodies couldn’t even be touched by undertaker­s . . . and their stories will enrage you

- AdditionAl reporting: nic north and Archie Mitchell



On his death certificat­e, the cause of office cleaner Maurice Cummings’ demise was given as ‘ Clinical Covid-19 Pneumonia’.

Just hours before he died on the Avon ward at Warwick hospital on July 10 last year, he had been tested for the virus and the result, just as it was in the two he’d had in the previous seven weeks, was negative.

Mr Cummings, who would have been 77 on Monday this week, had never tested positive for the virus and showed no symptoms, his bewildered family say.

When they asked why his death had been attributed to coronaviru­s by the doctor who signed the certificat­e, the family say they were told by the hospital’s bereavemen­t officer: ‘We didn’t detect the virus but some doctors still like to put it on the certificat­e.’

Mr Cummings, a father-of-two from Warwickshi­re with four grandchild­ren and two great-grandchild­ren, was admitted to the hospital days earlier after becoming unwell and unresponsi­ve at home. his wife Pauline believed his ill health was the result of years of osteoporos­is and sclerosis.

The couple’s eldest daughter, Tracey Cummings, 56, said that although the family didn’t challenge the doctor’s judgment, they were ‘suspicious’.

Ms Cummings, a teaching assistant who lives in Leamington spa, said: ‘There’s no way he had Covid. he was tested the day he died and the next day the result came back as negative and he had absolutely no symptoms.

‘When the bereavemen­t officer phoned us two days later and informed us that’s what it said on his death certificat­e, we were appalled. she said it was common practice for some doctors.

‘To make matters worse, the undertaker­s told us that because of the Covid factor, we weren’t allowed to say goodbye to him in the chapel of rest, dress him in his favourite clothes and beloved Elvis belt or carry his coffin at his funeral. instead, they put him in a plain shroud, which Dad would have hated.’

A hospital spokespers­on said: ‘We can’t comment on individual patient cases. in general terms, doctors give the cause of death according to their clinical opinion on the evidence available. They wouldn’t ascribe Covid as the cause of death unless there was clinical evidence to support that.

‘The causes of death on the death certificat­e are checked by the Medical Examiner for deaths. it is well described that in some patients with Covid pneumonia the virus is deep in the lungs and cannot be detected in the nose and throat, so a negative test result could be returned.

‘Covid pneumonia can be diagnosed by the clinical presentati­on and the results of blood tests and the findings on X-rays and CT scans and not solely via a specific Covid test.’

Mr Cummings’ daughter Tracey last night refuted the notion put forward by the hospital that Covid could have been present in his lungs despite the negative test.

she said: ‘Dad was admitted into hospital without any obvious Covid symptoms. no high temperatur­e, breathing difficulti­es, or loss of taste or smell. Covid-19 is a respirator­y disease. surely this would result in breathing difficulti­es?’

she said no one at the hospital had told her the virus could have been present in his lungs despite the negative test.


in ThE weeks before her death, Barbara Bell tested negative for Covid four times. her husband John was by her side every day in her final week. he never caught the virus.

Despite this, a doctor wrote on her death certificat­e that Covid was the main cause of Mrs Bell’s death on October 15, at the age of 71.

When Mr Bell, 77, challenged this, he was told that Covid was listed because it was difficult to distinguis­h it from triple pneumonia, which is what she

was suffering from. He was unable to change the cause of death on the certificat­e.

Mr Bell, from Scunthorpe, said: ‘What would make me feel better , and all the o thers probably experienci­ng the same or similar, would be the bloody truth, and that’s all.

‘When I spoke to the medical examiner’s office he said because the pneumonia was very similar to Covid they had to put it down as Covid.

‘I was angry with him. I said I didn ’t want it on the death certificat­e because it’s not right, but that was the stock answer that I got.’

He said he and his three daughters were lucky to have been able to visit his wife in Glenfield hospital in Leicester before she died and hold a funeral for her.

Mr Bell said his daughters also did not catch the virus, despite visiting their mother in the final days

Mrs Bell, a full- time mother, was the second youngest of 12 children.


Sue, a grandmothe­r to seven children, died aged 74 at her Somerset care home on June 3 last year after suffering from chronic obstructiv­e pulmonary disease. She repeatedly tested negative for Covid.

Neverthele­ss, her GP blamed the virus for her death. It was only when her furious husband, Alan — who asked not to be identified — contacted the surgery to object that the Covid diagnosis for his wife, a retired sales executive, was withdrawn.

Alan, 79, said: ‘There was no Covid in the care home and she had never tested positive for it. She’d had no test in the 24 hours before she died.

‘I told the surgery there was no way on earth I was allowing them to put the word Covid anywhere near her death certificat­e and I had to fight tooth and nail to persuade them to see my point of view.’

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