A 'GENTLE giant' who died from coronavirus at the hospital where he worked raised fears about a lack of protective gear and hand sanitiser in the days before his death.

Peter Gough, an administration assistant at the John Radcliffe Hospital, shared his concerns in a series of messages with friend Paul Saville, who has called his death on May 12 a 'scandal'.

Hospital managers say they followed national guidance on giving staff Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and said those who do not have direct contact with patients 'are not considered to need PPE'.

Also read: Oxford GP launches urgent appeal for PPE

However Mr Saville, who had known Mr Gough for 25 years and played darts with him, said his friend was certain the JR was the only place he could have caught the virus.

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Paul Saville and Peter Gough at a darts competition

In a text message on April 7, Mr Saville asked his friend: "How's work? I take it your all now wearing PPE?"

Mr Gough replied: "No PPE for admin staff. Not even sanitizer gel as not enough for everywhere in hospital.

Also read: Covid-19 now at 40 per cent of Oxford care homes

"Most of secretaries and mngt [management] now working from home. But most of us admin staff are needed in hospitals to do physical jobs."

Mr Saville answered: "Blimey... That's so bad."

Mr Gough went on: "No PPE unless on Covid wards. So most staff are in not using PPE. San gels in Covid and other wards, and in main public areas. But not in every one. So very careful what we touch and wash hands regularly."

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Screenshot of the message sent by Peter Gough on April 11

On April 11 Mr Gough, who lived in Kidlington and was known as 'Goughy', shared an Oxford Mail story about the death of two porters at the John Radcliffe from suspected coronavirus.

The 56-year-old wrote: "Porters like me and other admin staff do not have PPE. But we go around the hospital to do our jobs in the background."

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Screenshot of the message sent by Peter Gough on April 7

Mr Saville, who lives near Maidstone, Kent, and got to know Mr Gough when they both worked at HMRC, said: "You can clearly see a concern within the messages.

"Peter in my opinion died unnecessarily.

"I cannot believe following the deaths of the porters others remained at risk. No PPE and outrageously no hand sanitiser. It's a scandal."

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Paul Saville and Peter Gough

The 53-year-old went on: "Peter travelled to and from work in his car without stopping anywhere, he caught the virus clearly at the hospital.

"Peter was always positive and just got on with things. I think that ended up costing him."

He said that, aside from PPE and sanitiser, there should have been more effort put into enabling Mr Gough to do the majority of his admin work at home.

He added he and Mr Gough's wife and daughter, who he has been in contact with, wanted to ensure what happened to him was prevented in the future.

In a statement announcing Mr Gough's death on Friday, hospital managers paid tribute to Mr Gough, saying he had worked worked in gastroenterology and hepatology and before that in neurosciences ensuring 'patient documentation was readily available' and supported the clinical team with 'general administrative tasks'.

Also read: A&E visits plummet by almost half during virus peak

Mr Saville said there had been an outpouring of grief among the darts community following news of his death.

He said: "The man was a gentle giant, never had a bad word to say about anyone – he did not need to die."

He last played with Mr Gough on April 22, the same day he was tested for Covid-19, and remembers his friend telling him 'you could be the last player I beat'.

Mr Gough was admitted to hospital on the April 30 and died last week.

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Terry Roberts, Chief People Office at Oxford University Hospitals

Terry Roberts, the hospital's chief people officer, said: “Our thoughts at this very sad time are with Peter’s family, as well as with his friends and colleagues throughout the trust.

“Peter spent his working life as a dedicated public servant, joining the NHS after a long period working at HMRC. We are all grateful for his service. He will be missed.”

Read the full tribute from hospital staff here

A statement from the hospital's managing trust in response to Mr Gough's messages said: "Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has followed national guidelines on appropriate levels of PPE throughout this pandemic.

"PPE has been available to the staff whose contact with patients mean that they require it.

"The levels of PPE are determined by the level of risk and exposure."

It added: "Staff who do not come into direct contact with patients are not considered to need PPE.

"All staff are regularly reminded about the need for social distancing and to wash their hands in line with national guidance."

Public Health England's current Covid-19 guidance for PPE is focused on those workers with direct contact with patients and states: "Staff should have access to the PPE that protects them for the appropriate setting and context."

For non-clinical areas in hospitals, such as in communal areas and during work breaks, it stresses the need for social distancing.