'She would always go that extra mile': Tributes paid to healthcare staff as coronavirus death toll continues to rise

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Stacey Foster

Tributes have poured in for healthcare staff who are among the latest confirmed coronavirus deaths.

Those who have died include people who worked in a range of roles, from porters and domestic workers, to doctors and nurses.

The husband of mother-of-two Josephine Peter, a nurse at Southport and Formby District General Hospital, described his wife as "my heroine" after her death of Saturday.

Trish Armstrong-Child, chief executive of Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said: “Josephine’s husband, Thabo, told me she was passionate, hardworking, always putting others before herself. She was ‘my heroine’, he said.

“Our thoughts are with Josephine’s family at this difficult time and we offer them our sincere condolences.”

The South African nurse, who is known as Josephine Matseke (Manini) on a GoFundMe page set up to help with repatriation and funeral costs, was described as someone who would “always go that extra mile”.

Colleagues described Khulisani Nkala as a gentleman. Credit: PA

James Lock, chief executive of Altrix, the nursing agency through which she was employed, said: “Josephine was a diligent nurse who was highly regarded and liked by the team.

“She would always go that extra mile and was a pleasure to work with. My team and I send our very best wishes and deepest condolences to Josephine’s family.”

Mental health nurse Khulisani Nkala, 46, who died on Friday, was praised for his “selfless” attitude, particularly regarding the work he did in support of BAME staff and patients.

Dr Sara Munro, chief executive of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Khuli, who was 46 years old, was a well-respected and selfless professional nurse, who always put the patient first, and will be greatly missed by his colleagues.”

Wendy Tangen, workforce race equality network chair at the trust, said he was “a man of integrity, honour, wit and a smile that lit up any dull room”.

She added: “He believed in fairness and I often had conversations with him on improving the care we offered to our service users and supporting the progression of our black and minority ethnic (BAME) staff members (including our bank staff).

“Although he can be described as having a strong resilience, he understood the impact on inequalities for BAME staff and service users and was committed to making a difference to their lives.”

Tributes were also paid to a former GP, described as a “leading light” in his field.

Dr Craig Wakeham, chief clinical information officer at Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and former GP from Cerne Abbas, died on Saturday, aged 59.

Manjeet Riyat died at the Royal Derby Hospital on Monday. Credit: University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Trust/PA

Manjeet Riyat, who was known as the "father of the emergency department" by his colleagues at Royal Derby Hospital, died on Monday.

He was the first Sikh to work as an A&E consultant in the UK and has been described as "instrumental" in building the emergency medicine service in Derbyshire over the past 20 years.

Paying tribute to Mr Riyat, trust chief executive Gavin Boyle said: "Mr Riyat, known to his colleagues as Manjeet, was a widely respected consultant in emergency medicine nationally.

"He was an incredibly charming person and well-loved. Manjeet knew so many people here across the hospital; we will all miss him immensely."

Tributes have been paid to NHS staff. Credit: PA

CCG chairman Dr Forbes Watson said: “We are all deeply saddened to have lost a valued and committed colleague and friend.”

A message on the website of Cerne Abbas Surgery, where he had previously worked, said he was “a leading light in both the clinical commissioning group and local medical committee, as well as a devoted husband and father to his two boys”.

Meanwhile, carer support specialist Sophie Fagan was described as an “extraordinary woman” who “refused to fully retire”.

The 78-year-old died at Homerton Hospital in London on Sunday, a place where she had spent much of her working life.

While Government minister Simon Clarke confirmed on Tuesday that 49 NHS staff had died, the total is thought to be much higher.

The number of healthcare workers verified by the PA news agency to have died so far has risen to more than 70, and there are more than a dozen further deaths which are yet to be confirmed.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know: