Retired GP tweets about breaking Covid rules to hug woman whose husband had died of cancer

A retired GP who admitted that he broke Covid rules during the pandemic to hug a woman whose husband had died of cancer, says most people who flouted social distancing regulations did so ‘to help others, not to have a party’.

Dr Prit Buttar, who went back to work to help during the pandemic, said he was prompted to share his account on Twitter after news of parties at No 10 broke because he felt it showed a ‘huge disconnection’ from the lives of ordinary people. 

According to the BBC, the GP had retired to near Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway in 2016 but worked part-time across the region until 2019.

When the pandemic broke out, he volunteered to help with the vaccination clinic and set up local Covid hubs.

Recounting how he breached Covid social distancing measures to comfort a grieving widow, he said: ‘I was working in one of the vaccine clinics and one of the reception staff came through and asked if we could fit in somebody who should have come a few days before but had missed her appointment.

‘Of course, we said that’s fine and when she came in – this was a lady in her late 60s or early 70s, I can’t remember the details now – she was so apologetic that she had wasted an appointment and apologised again and again and we reassured her.’

Retired GP Dr Priti Buttar who went back to work to help during the pandemic has tweeted that he broke Covid rules to hug a woman whose husband had died of cancer

Dr Buttar said the woman told him that she and her husband had moved from England to Scotland just before the pandemic and that almost as soon as it started, he was diagnosed with cancer.

She told him that he had died the week before she came to the vaccination clinic.

He added: ‘Her only son lived in England and his wife had just been diagnosed with Covid so it was impossible for him to travel up.

‘Because she had been so wrapped up in caring for her husband over the past year, she hadn’t had chance to make friends with local people, something worsened by the first lockdown.

‘So she had dealt with his death and funeral arrangements alone, and had completely forgotten about her vaccination appointment. ‘I’m so sorry,’ she repeated.

‘So I decided to break the rules about social distancing. I leaned forward in my chair and put my arms around her.

‘She clung to me and wept, and sobbed into my shoulder, ‘This is the first time anyone’s embraced me since he died.’

‘I’m sure others could tell similar stories. This is how ordinary people endured the lockdowns and the terrible pain that they sometimes brought.

‘They endured loss and heartbreak and loneliness with stoicism and resignation. After all, we were all in it together, weren’t we?

‘And meanwhile, others in the highest positions of government behaved as if the rules didn’t apply to them.’

The doctor’s Twitter thread came less than a week after Boris Johnson admitted to MPs that he had attended a ‘Bring Your Own Booze’ party in the garden of Downing Street which he says he ‘believed implicitly’ was a work event. 

On Friday it emerged that two leaving parties had taken place on April 16, 2021.

Reports suggest that the two parties merged later that evening and continued in the Downing Street garden until after midnight.

Dr Buttar told the BBC that he shared his story on Twitter so emphasise what ordinary people had gone through.

Pictured: One of the 'illicit parties' held in Downing Street gardens on May 17, 2020

Pictured: One of the ‘illicit parties’ held in Downing Street gardens on May 17, 2020

He said: ‘I posted on Twitter about this just to make the point that, you know, ordinary people dealt with their loss and their loneliness with tremendous fortitude and resignation and stoicism and what a contrast to the behaviour of the prime minister and his entourage.

‘Everyone in the thread who said they’d broken the rules had done so in order to help somebody else, not because they wanted to have a party,’ he said.

‘The other thread of it was the people who hadn’t broken the rules who had watched loved ones die over an iPad and now bitterly regretted that they hadn’t taken that moment just to say goodbye to their loved one.

‘One of the universal comments that I have seen when I’ve looked at the thread from people is that the gulf between everyday experiences and the behaviour of the prime minister is so vast.

‘This is not something for which an apology – a promise to do better – will ever suffice.’

Civil servant Sue Gray is conducting an inquiry into the allegations of parties being held at Downing Street in breach of the coronavirus rules during the pandemic.