Inquest into death of much-loved healthcare assistant

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has paid tribute to Christine Emerson, who worked as a healthcare assis

Christine Emerson, who worked as a healthcare assistant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital before contracting Covid - Credit: QEH

An inquest will be held today into the death of a healthcare assistant believed to be the first NHS worker in East Anglia to die after catching Covid.

Christine Emerson, who was known as Chrissie, worked at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn.

A new outpatient unit being built at the site is being named after her, after her name came top of a public poll.

The 64-year-old, who was described as a much-loved wife, mother and grandmother, passed away on April 19, 2020.

In a statement issued after Mrs Emerson's death, the hospital said: “Everyone at QEH is coming to terms with the devastating news that one of our own healthcare assistants has died after testing positive for Covid-19.

"The whole family at QEH is deeply saddened at losing Chrissie Emerson who was such a valued colleague, and much-loved wife to Michael and cherished mother and grandmother."

Mrs Emerson's inquest is being  heard by the senior coroner for Norfolk, Jacqueline Lake, at County Hall in Norwich on Wednesday afternoon.

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At an earlier hearing, Mrs Lake said Mrs Emerson, who was born in Preston in Lancashire and lived in Terrington, near King's Lynn, died at the hospital on April 19, 2020.

She said the cause of her death was viral pneumonia, due to Covid. 

Mrs Emerson's colleagues at the hospital and members of the public have since voted to name a new outpatient unit after her. 

Denise Smith, its chief operating officer, said: "Chrissie’s sad death impacted the whole Queen Elizabeth Hospital family, and we believe naming the unit in her memory is a fitting tribute to her.

"Chrissie is very much missed by us all."

The new unit, which opens in the spring in part of the former Fermoy Unit, will offer improved facilities for urology, pain service, rheumatology and gynaecology patients.

It will also include a day assessment unit for pregnant women who need to attend hospital for assessments.