Three GPs killed by coronavirus amid concern over BAME deaths

Three GPs have died after being infected with coronavirus amid concerns that people who are black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) may be ‘disproportionately likely’ to die or suffer severe symptoms.

NHS doctors killed by COVID-19 (Photo: SOPA Images/Getty Images)
NHS doctors killed by COVID-19 (Photo: SOPA Images/Getty Images)

Essex GP Dr Fayez Ayache and Dagenham, London GP Dr Syed Zishan Haider have joined the growing list of health professionals who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Ayache, 76, who worked at the North Clacton Medical Group and had been employed within the NHS in Essex and Suffolk for more than 40 years, died on 8 April after being diagnosed with pneumonia and COVID-19.

His eldest daughter Layla Ayache described her father on Facebook as a ‘rural village GP at heart’ and the ‘most dedicated GP’ she had ever met. She wrote: 'Our wonderful dad passed away peacefully in hospital yesterday from a short but courageous battle with COVID-19.

Dedicated GP

'He was the most kindhearted, loving, generous and caring man we knew and he was an incredible and amazing doctor... we are truly devastated and will miss him dearly.'

79-year-old GP Dr Haider passed away at Queen’s Hospital in Romford last Monday after failing to recover from the virus. The Dagenham GP was a senior partner at Valence Medical Centre and had worked as a doctor for over 50 years.

Dr Haider’s son spoke to Geo News and paid tribute to his father: ‘Many described him as a selfless man driven by his passion for his profession.

‘Even while in hospital breathing his last, he was urging doctors and nurses to pay attention to other patients rather than him. Many at his age would have retired yet his dedication to his profession was immeasurable.’

Others paid tribute to Dr Haider on social media, claiming the clinician had asked for his ventilator to be used for other sick patients.

76-year-old Essex GP Dr Habib Zaidi became the first UK doctor to die after contracting coronavirus, passing away on 25 March.

At least 11 doctors and more than 30 healthcare workers in total are now believed to have died in the UK after being infected with coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. Health and social secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast on Saturday that 19 ‘members of the NHS family’ had died from the virus.

Mr Hancock added that he was ‘particularly struck’ at the high proportion of people from minority ethnic backgrounds who had died while treating patients - saying the public should recognise their ‘enormous contribution’.

BAME doctors

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul earlier has called on the government to investigate after the first 10 doctors in the UK to die from the virus were BAME.

He said: 'There is growing evidence that BAME people are disproportionately likely to be exposed to and contract COVID-19, to suffer severely, and to die from the virus. Nearly a third of people critically ill with COVID-19 are BAME, while only 13% of the UK population are BAME.

‘We are calling on the government to investigate this deeply concerning trend and take any and all possible action to mitigate the heightened risks which this pandemic may pose to BAME people and doctors in our country.’

The BMA has also warned that the government is forcing doctors to place themselves and their patients in ‘grave danger’ by expecting them to treat COVID-19 patients without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

A total of 88,621 have now tested positive for COVID-19, with 11,329 people who tested positive for the disease dying after being hospitalised.

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