Prison officer who died with Covid was a wonderful father, says widow

Rachael Burford
·2 min read
<p>Prison officer Paul Tottman died on December 20</p> (LDRS)

Prison officer Paul Tottman died on December 20


The widow of a previously “fit and healthy” prison officer has spoken of her heartbreak after he died following six weeks in hospital with Covid-19.

Paul Tottman’s family agreed to his life-support machine being turned off at St Thomas’ Hospital ICU after doctors said he could not be saved.

The 52-year-old father-of-two, from Kent, had worked at HMP Elmley on the Isle of Sheppey for two decades. He tested positive in October and went into hospital in Kent on November 6. When his condition deteriorated he was moved to St Thomas’. He died on December 20.

Mr Tottman’s wife Laura said: “Paul was the kindest, funniest man. A wonderful husband and father. A big West Ham fan. "He would do anything for anyone. He had very mild asthma but had never had an asthma attack.

"He was a fit and healthy prison officer, so this was a shock for our family.”

The couple’s daughters Katie, 26, and Hattie, 22, have started a campaign to raise money for the Guys & St Thomas’ Charity as a thank you to the “fantastic” hospital staff.

Mrs Tottman said it was “distressing” to see people criticising NHS staff or questioning the pressure hospitals are under.

“It is so distressing when you hear people saying this is only affecting older people or isn’t as bad as doctors say,” she said.

“I got to see him before his machine was turned off. I went to St Thomas’ on a Sunday and it was very quiet in the corridors but when you got up to intensive care it was completely full.

"The stress the staff are under is immense. They are doing such an amazing job under phenomenal pressure.”

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Our deepest sympathies are with Mr Tottman’s loved ones and colleagues at this difficult time.”

They added that a "full package of support is being offered" to prison staff and all staff have access to PPE and wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible.

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