Dr Ashley Bloomfield refuses to apologise for Middlemore COVID-19 blunder

Dr Ashley Bloomfield has refused to apologise for the blunder at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital that saw patients left in a room for hours with a patient who later tested positive for COVID-19. 

The COVID-positive patient visited Middlemore Hospital on the evening of Saturday, September 4 with atypical COVID-19 symptoms and spent time sharing a room with three other people for over an hour before testing positive.

As a result, 29 staff at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital are being treated as close contacts and have been stood down for two weeks, including 11 doctors and 13 registered nurses.

During the 1pm COVID-19 update, the Director-General of Health said he didn't believe the incident occurred out of negligence.

"I think the staff, including with the advice of infection prevention control experts, did everything that could be expected of them. I do know that the delay is something they are going to be going back and having a look at so we will see what comes out of that."

When asked by a journalist if he could admit "a serious error was made and perhaps apologise to those affected", Dr Bloomfield declined.

"What I would say is it's not my job to second-guess the decisions of the clinicians looking after people and those actually providing care on the ground," he said, and noted more information would be available on the incident after the assessment is conducted.

A senior executive at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital has since apologised to the three patients who were in the same room as the COVID-19 patient.

One of the patients, 91-year-old Keith, told Newshub a senior executive came to say sorry on Monday night.

"He was apologising for the fact that we'd been put in those circumstances which we shouldn't have been, where we were exposed to risk," he says.

However, Keith's family said as of Tuesday night, no one at the DHB had bothered to pick up the phone to explain what happened.

Ray Robertson's wife was also on the same ward as the COVID-positive patient, and neither of them knows how it occurred. 

"I think it was a lack of communication more than poor communication because there wasn't any communication regarding it," Robertson said.

He called the debacle a "blunder".