Son pays tribute to 'superwoman' NHS nurse who died after contracting coronavirus

A grieving son has paid tribute to his "superwoman" mum, an NHS nurse, who lost her life after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

Samuel Akinsanya told ITV News: "My mum would go to work nightshifts, come back sleep for three or four hours, do everything a superwoman, a mother, would do."

His mother, Esther Akinsanya, is just one of the many NHS frontline staff from a black and ethnic minority background who has been disproportionately affected by coronavirus.

Data from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre has suggested 34.5% of critically ill Covid-19 patients have BAME backgrounds.

This is despite just 10.8% of the population being black or Asian, according to the 2011 census.

Esther Akinsanya died at the same hospital where she treated patients. Credit: Handout

Ms Akinsanya came to the UK from Nigeria, at first she worked as a cleaner and then dedicated 20 years working for the NHS.

At just 55-years-old she died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London, where she treated patients just the week before.

Ms Akinsanya leaves behind her son, a 14 year old daughter and a huge network of friends.

Her son, Samuel, told ITV News: "All she ever talked about was her children, you know, she wanted to do the best she could."

Her sister Mary, who worked alongside her at the hospital, also fell ill and is still in intensive care and doesn't know that Esther has died.

Ms Akinsanya's son said: "It's another hurdle that me and my family are going to have to overcome, to let her know that her sister has passed.

"It's not something I want to do, you know, I don't like to sit alone, I'm trying to be strong but your heart knows that it's hurt."

Esther Akinsanya and her sister Mary, who is still being treated in intensive care. Credit: Handout

But for this grieving family, new NHS England recommendations that workers from BAME backgrounds should be “risk-assessed” over concerns they could be at greater risk of coronavirus, is too late.

A letter from NHS England sent on Wednesday urges health trusts to make “appropriate arrangements”, which could include moving those from ethnic minority backgrounds away from the front line to non-patient facing roles.

However, Ms Akinsanya's son is calling on the government for urgent action to avoid further unnecessary deaths.

He said: "It does seem that ethnic minorities are more at risk, it is something we need to look at urgently, we want transparency, we need that at least."

The Department of Health and Social Care announced on April 16 that a review would take place to look into why BAME people were being affected disproportionately.

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