LDV interviews: Bill Powell on surviving Covid-19, tackling inequality and plans for the future.

It was wonderful to catch up with Bill Powell on Friday. Bill, the former Welsh Assembly member for Mid and West Wales, recently spent 6 weeks in hospital, 3 of them in Intensive Care, after contracting Covid-19.

Our chat was his Zoom debut. Thanks to his friend Ann for making it possible.

Bill  talked about his time in hospital, how he was admitted to ICU within half an hour of arriving and was put in an induced coma. More than two weeks later, he had the disorientating experience of waking up, not knowing what had happened to him. Over the next week in intensive care, he suffered all sorts of dreams and delusions, at one point being convinced that the Queen and Prince Philip had died.

After that, he spent three weeks in rehab regaining his strength before leaving hospital to applause from staff and fellow patients. I had thought that, as everyone on the rehab ward would have had the virus, that they would be able to mix reasonably freely with each other, but Bill explained that it wasn’t like that at all and the people he saw most were the nurses and physiotherapists.

The support of those nurses, physios, occupational therapists and doctors was crucial to getting him well enough to go home. Since returning to his farm in Talgarth, he has given several media interviews expressing his profound gratitude to the teams who saved his life.

It was great to follow his recovery on social media. Once he’d left intensive care, I was first aware of him liking posts and comments on Facebook, and retweeting things. Then he started to comment and, eventually, to post things himself.

He really appreciated the avalanche of messages he received from party members, political opponents and constituents.

However, he is “haunted” by the thousands of people who weren’t as fortunate as he was and  feels an obligation to give something back.

He talked about how the current crisis has exacerbated existing inequalities and how we have to come up with new ways of tackling them.

Welsh Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams came in for particular praise for the calm and competent way she is dealing with the pandemic

There are two ways to catch up on our chat. Paul Walter very kindly uploaded the audio to Soundcloud, and I managed to figure out how to get it from Zoom to YouTube. At the start of the YouTube, it looks like the audio and visual are out of sync but it sorts itself out after a bit.

Below, some photos and news articles chart his path to recovery. 

Bill’s road to recovery

On 29th March, ITV Cymru reported that Bill was seriously ill in hospital with Coronavirus after being admitted 3 days earlier.

16 days later, the Powys County Times reported an improvement in his condition.

On 22nd April, the same paper was able to report that he was out of intensive care.

Three days later, he was able to tweet his gratitude to the nurses and doctors who had saved his life.

Then came photos with some of the staff who helped him recover, Sophie, Jules, Emma and Laura.

Nurses Abby and Ewa

 

When he finally left the hospital last week, there was applause from the staff and patients on the ward.

And a special tribute on International Nurses’ Day:

Talking to ITV Cymru from home this week:

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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