‘The most generous man’: UK’s first Sikh A&E consultant dies after contracting coronavirus

‘We will all miss him immensely,’ says Royal Derby Hospital chief following death of Manjeet Singh Riyat

Adam Forrest
Tuesday 21 April 2020 15:41 BST
Coronavirus in numbers

Friends, family and NHS staff have paid tribute to a “much loved” emergency consultant at the Royal Derby Hospital who died after contracting the coronavirus.

Manjeet Singh Riyat – who died at the hospital where he worked on Monday – was described as “the father of the emergency department” by his colleagues.

The first Sikh in the UK to become an A&E medicine consultant when he was appointed in 2003, Mr Riyat was also praised for his work overseeing the training of junior doctors.

Speaking on behalf of her department’s team, emergency medicine consultant Susie Hewitt said: “Manjeet was enormously valued and much loved as a colleague, supervisor and mentor as well as for his wise council and discreet support in tough times.

“For many, Manjeet was considered the father of the current emergency department in Derby and many more will reflect on how his inspiration has shaped their own careers.”

Gavin Boyle, chief executive of the hospital, said Mr Riyat had been “instrumental” in building the emergency medicine service in Derbyshire over the past two decades.

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

An unnamed cousin of Mr Riyat described him as “a mountain of a man.”

The relative told Sky News: “He was my brother basically, if there’s one man I’m going to miss the most it’s him. He was the most generous man you could meet – the kindest man you could meet, with a great sense of humour.”

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has identified 43 NHS workers in England who have died after contracting Covid-19.

However, this is only a partial picture, with the true total thought to be significantly higher. The PA news agency has verified 65 deaths of NHS staff across England, with over a dozen more reported deaths yet to be confirmed.

A 51-year-old health worker from Swansea became the first paramedic in Wales to die after contracting coronavirus, according to the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Gerallt Davies, who was based at Cwmbwrla Station and had worked for the ambulance service for 26 years, died on Monday.

Mr Davies was also national operations officer for St John Cymru Wales, a role which saw him awarded an MBE for his services to first aid provision in 2009.

Paramedic Gerallt Davies died after contracting Covid-19 (PA / Welsh Ambulances Services NHS Trust)

Jason Killens, chief executive at the Welsh Ambulances Services NHS Trust, said “his passing is a devastating blow for us all.”

Peter Hughes, regional secretary for Unite Wales, said: “Gerallt was a hero alongside all of our frontline NHS staff. Day in, day out they are selflessly putting themselves at risk in order to protect us all from this terrible virus. When all of this is over we must never forget their brave service and all of the sacrifices they have made.

“Unite Wales offers all its support and deepest sympathies to Gerallt's family during this difficult time.”

The government last week announced a formal review into the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) communities.

Labour said the disproportionate number of deaths of Bame doctors was “deeply disturbing”. The first 10 UK doctors who died from the coronavirus were all from Bame backgrounds.

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