COVID-19: The stories and the faces of just some local NHS workers who fell victim to the virus

NHS workers who have died after contracting COVID-19. Pic: Lauren Sneath / Twitter @NursingNotes UK / Homerton University Hospital / PA Media – Golam Rahat Khan / Barts NHS Health Trust / PA Media

By Lauren Sneath and Scarlett Sherriff

For the NHS, the toll of COVID-19 has been multifaceted and hard to bear. Those who treat the coronavirus in intensive care units are likely to not only treat members of the public, but also their frontline colleagues, who have been increasingly vulnerable to catching the virus.

The total number of NHS workers who have succumbed to the virus has surpassed 600, with at least 12 of those deaths occurring in Croydon, Hackney, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets.

Eastlondonlines has collated the names of known deaths of NHS staff in these boroughs, in a tribute to the love, care and hard work to which they dedicated their lives. There will be others we do not know about, but these are just some of the victims.

Hackney

Michael Allieu, acute care nurse at Homerton University Hospital

Michael Allieu died on April 18 at Homerton University Hospital in Hackney, where he had been a staff nurse since 2007. The trust’s chief executive Tracey Fletcher said: “Michael was a vibrant, larger than life character on our acute care unit, and was well known and very well-liked at our hospital.”

Pic: Twitter @NursingNotesUK

Sophie Fagan, nurse at Homerton University Hospital

Sophie Fagan, 78, died on April 19. She qualified as a nurse in 1966, having arrived in the UK from India five years earlier at the age of just 16. At the time of Sophie’s death, Tracey Fletcher said: “She refused to fully retire… Sophie wanted to make a difference and caring for the elderly was her passion.” Fletcher also described her as being a keen advocate for patients, fighting tirelessly for their ongoing needs after discharge.

Pic: Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdury, consultant urologist at Homerton University Hospital

Dr Abdul Mabud Chowdury died at Queen’s Hospital in Romford on April 8 at the age of 53. His son, Intisar Chowdury, spoke to the BBC and other news outlets about how Dr Chowdury had campaigned for NHS staff to have better access to PPE. He described his father as a brave man, and said: “It pains me to say that my father is not the first and he is unfortunately not going to be the last NHS frontline worker to die.”

Pic: PA Media – Golam Rahat Khan

Tower Hamlets

Miharajiya Mohideen, healthcare assistant at Newham General Hospital

Miharajiya Mohideen was known as Raji to her colleagues. She had been working at Newham General Hospital, part of Barts NHS Trust, for several years before her death. She was looked after in intensive care for 13 days after being admitted to King George Hospital, where she died on April 20. Mohideen’s son Javed has set up a JustGiving page in her memory. The funds go towards providing clean drinking water in Sierra Leone or Malawi.

Mark Woolcock, ambulance care assistant at Barts NHS Health Trust

Mark Woolcock also died on April 20, at the age of 60. Mark was a member of a trade union group called Community, and his branch group paid tribute to him through their WhatsApp group and have raised money to support his family.

Pic: Barts NHS Health Trust

Lewisham

Grace Kungwengwe, healthcare assistant at University Hospital Lewisham

Kungwengwe died on April 19 at University Hospital Lewisham, where she had worked. A fundraising page created in her memory said: “She was loved by many, and her dedication and care for others was second to none.” Ben Travis, chief executive of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust released a statement in the memory of Kungwengwe and another of the trust’s employees. He said: “Our thoughts are with their families, loved ones and colleagues during this desperately sad time.” 

Pic: PA Media

Ian Reynolds, medical crew member at Crystal Palace Football Club

Although a paramedic for more than 30 years, Ian Reynolds, 53, had spent the last 8 years working at Selhurst Park as a member of Crystal Palace Football Club’s medical team. His colleague, Dr Amir Pakravan, said: “As a person, he was the best friend you could wish for, always smiling, calm and easy going, and an avid Palace fan. As a colleague, he was extremely professional, reliable, approachable, highly experienced and knowledgeable, and always ready to help. He was the complete package and an absolute joy to work with.”

Pic: PA Media

Claudette Ramlal, physiotherapy administrator at University Hospital Lewisham

Claudette Ramlal was working as a physiotherapy administrator at University Hospital Lewisham before her death from COVID-19. Duncan Stamp, head of therapies at the hospital, spoke warmly of her following her death. He said: “Claudette’s positivity and compassion stood out… She was a people person who took the time to listen. Her warmth and kindness made her a great role model in the Physiotherapy Department and she is hugely missed by us all. Rest in peace, Claud.”

Dr Eric Labeja-Acellam, senior consultant at University Hospital Lewisham

Originally from Uganda, Dr Eric Labeja-Acellam, 69, died in Kings College Hospital on March 31 after contracting coronavirus. At the time, Labeja-Acellam’s wife Jennifer Lawala described him as “the greatest of men” in a comment to the Evening Standard. “Eric would try to laugh through illness but this time it was different,” she said. “We had to call for help. The ambulance took a long time to come then he went and we never saw him again.”

The Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust also commemorated the deaths of Edem Dzigbede, 59, and Esther Akinsaya, 55, who worked at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich. They worked on the frontline of the crisis, and both died in April 2020.

Croydon

Dr Paul Kabasele, eye care doctor at Croydon University Hospital

The death of Paul Kabasele, 58, was met with “great sadness” by the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. A statement on their website read: “A truly gifted and hard-working doctor, Paul treated patients with a range of conditions. Much loved by his patients and colleagues alike, Paul provided an exceptional level of care to his patients, thanks to his warm, reassuring and generous nature.” Kabasele was also a committed church pastor for more than 30 years, and worked to improve the eye health of citizens of his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Pic: PA Media

Dr Krishan Arora, GP at Violet Lane Medical Practice

A senior partner at Violet Lane Medical Practice, Arora, 57, had worked in Croydon for 27 years before his death on April 15. A fundraising page in memory which has raised over £3000 said that Arora “gave much of himself to help others in the community and saw patients till the end.” The page said, “the outpouring of love and memories of our beloved Doctor Krishan Arora passing has been incredible…his loss has left a huge hole in the local community and he will always be missed but never forgotten.”

Pic: PA Media

Though these heroes contributed immeasurably to their communities, not every NHS worker who has died fighting the coronavirus has been identified. If you know of an NHS worker who is missing from this list, please contact us, so that we can pay tribute to the sacrifice they made for their community.

@SneathLauren @scar_sherriff

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