Doctor calls for recognition of migrant workers after death of nurse friend

A doctor who lost a friend and fellow healthcare professional to coronavirus has called for the UK to recognise the contribution of migrant workers to the NHS.

Mr Salah Hammouche is a former colleague of Sister Leilani Dayrit and suggested that NHS facilities could be named after professionals like her who lost their lives on the frontline of the outbreak.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Saturday at least 19 NHS staff had died fighting against coronavirus. More hospital staff are thought to have passed away since.

More than 20 NHS staff have now died with the virus. Credit: PA

Ms Dayrit had worked as a nurse at St Cross Hospital in Rugby but died on April 7. She is one of several Filipino NHS workers to have died after contracting Covid-19.

Mr Hammouche said: “She will be remembered as a very compassionate nurse, a hard-working nurse, as a mother… we will remember her as a friend.

“She was one of the best… she always went the extra mile to look after her patients and colleagues.”

A GoFundMe page set up for Mr Dayrit’s husband and daughter has already raised more than £11,000. She dedicated 16 years of her life working for the NHS.

Mr Hammouche described Ms Dayrit as a ‘wonderful nurse’. Credit: Family handout/PA

Mr Hammouche, a trauma and orthopaedic registrar, who was born in Syria before moving to the UK 13 years ago, said: “Lei was obviously not born in this country.

“I hope that the contribution of international medics, nurses, physiotherapists, and even us losing our lives and loved ones to save the patients of this country, hopefully, will help to build better harmony.

“We all signed up to treat patients, to make them better… We did not sign up to die on the frontline, but we are all happy to risk our lives to make sure this country and the world can overcome this pandemic.

“Once the pandemic has subsided I think it would be a good contribution to name wards or parts of NHS facilities after the names of these people who have passed away fighting the coronavirus.”

Mr Hammouche, a trauma and orthopaedic registrar, who was born in Syria before moving to the UK 13 years ago. Credit: PA

Mr Hammouche, who has also worked at the Royal London Hospital and Great Ormond Street, added that generally the UK has been a “very loving” and “very welcoming” country since he arrived and he hopes that continues.

He also said he is thankful for the displays of support shown by the public and media towards healthcare workers, saying “it’s nice to feel appreciated and valued”.

Mr Hammouche warned that Covid-19 coronavirus is “no joke”, adding: “We know patients who will just develop mild symptoms in the morning and by the afternoon they will be on a ventilator and by the evening they pass away.”

Mr Hammouche thanked his colleagues, and said he is “so honoured to be a member of these teams”.

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