Six GPs have now died after testing positive for COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of a GP in East London and another in Dorset in recent days, taking the total number to have died with COVID-19 infection to six.

Dr Craig Wakeham (left) and Dr Yusuf Patel (right) (Photos: Dorset CCG/Newham CCG)
Dr Craig Wakeham (left) and Dr Yusuf Patel (right) (Photos: Dorset CCG/Newham CCG)

Dr Yusuf Ismail Patel, a 61-year-old GP principal and founder of the Woodgrange Medical Practice in Newham, east London, died on Monday 20 April after contracting COVID-19.

Over the weekend, 59-year-old Dorset GP Dr Craig Wakeham lost his life to the virus after working for 'many days' at a county hospital - becoming the first GP reported to have died outside of London and south-east England during the pandemic.

Dr Wakeham and Dr Patel became the fifth and sixth GPs to have passed away after being infected with COVID-19, after the deaths of London GPs Dr Syed Zishan Haider and Dr Krishan Arora, and Essex GPs Dr Habib Zaidi and Dr Fayez Ayache.

COVID-19

Colleagues of Dr Patel at the Woodgrange Medical Practice said: 'It is with a very heavy heart that we have to inform you of the sad loss of Dr Yusuf Ismail Patel, GP principal and founder of Woodgrange NHS Medical Practice.

'After a valiant struggle with COVID-19, Dr Patel finally succumbed to his illness on Monday 20 April. This is a tragic loss to all his family, friends, colleagues and patients. The pain is immeasurable. He has touched and enriched many lives and we miss him dearly.'

Dr Jeremy Dobbs and Dr Jenny Bubb, colleagues of Dr Wakeham at the Cerne Abbas Surgery in Dorchester, Dorset, said: 'We are very saddened to inform our patients that Dr Wakeham died at the weekend. He had been fighting the coronavirus in Dorset County Hospital for many days.

'His industry and innovation led our practice for 30 years. He was also a leading light in both the CCG and LMC, as well as a devoted husband and father to his two boys.

Lasting legacy

'His legacy lives on in our patients who he cared for diligently, and in the good name he built for our surgery.'

Dr Forbes Watson, chair of Dorset CCG where Dr Wakeham was chief clinical information officer, said: 'We are all deeply saddened to have lost a valued and committed colleague and friend. Craig was a champion for rural general practice and a pioneer for integrated nursing teams, having lived and worked as a much-loved GP in Cerne Abbas for many years.

'Craig was passionate about working with local people to improve services for them and was well known for his frequent challenges to us all on their behalf. He was highly respected and liked by everyone that knew him.'

Five of the six GPs to have died from COVID-19 are from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds - prompting a warning from the BMA that older BAME doctors should not work in high-risk roles during the pandemic.

The government has launched an investigation into the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on people from BAME communities.

One estimate, from the website Nursing Notes, puts the total number of health and social care workers to have died from coronavirus infection at above 100.

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