Mental health nurse Khuli Nkala first NHS worker to die in Leeds and York NHS trust

Khuli Nkala

A Zimbabwean born mental health nurse, described by colleagues as someone who "always put the patient first" and had a smile that "lit up" a room, has died of coronavirus.

Khulisani Nkala, 46, who worked for the Leeds and York NHS Partnership Foundation Trust died last Friday. He is the first staff member at the trust to die from the virus.

The trust provides mental health and learning disability services in Leeds and specialist services across Yorkshire.

The trust's chief executive, Dr Sara Munro, said: “It is with great sadness that I have to announce that Khulisani (Khuli) Nkala, a Charge Nurse in our Forensic Services, died from coronavirus on Friday 17 April 2020,” she said.

“This is the first member of our particular NHS family to lose their life to COVID-19, and I sincerely hope it will be the last.

"Khuli was a well-respected and selfless professional nurse, who always put the patient first, and will be greatly missed by his colleagues," Dr Munro said.

She said Mr Nkala's family had asked for privacy and added: "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time."

Nr Nkala had joined the trust as a staff nurse in 2015, becoming a charge nurse in 2016. He had previously worked at Stockton Hall Medium Secure Care Hospital, near York. He was also an active member of the trust's Workforce Race Equality Network and its chair, Wendy Tangen, said he would be "missed dearly".

"Khuli was a man of integrity, honour, wit and a smile that lit up any dull room.

"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.

"His ability to develop sound relationships and put people at ease was astounding, nothing appeared to faze him, and his presence gave calmness and confidence in difficult situations."