Another Zimbabwean nurse dies of COVID-19 in the UK

Khulisani Nkala

he United Kindong’s National Health Service (NHS) has put out a tribute for Mr Khulisani Nkala who died after contracting Coronavirus in the United Kingdom.

It reads as following:

A tribute to Khulisani (Khuli)

Nkala From Dr Sara Munro, Chief Executive

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 18 April 2020. This is the first member of our particular NHS family to lose their life to COVID19, and I sincerely hope it will be the last. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as this difficult time.

They have asked for their privacy to be respected so they can come to terms with this loss and grieve in peace. We have shared with them how much Khuli meant to so many colleagues and service users. Khuli, who was 46 years old, was a well-respected and selfless professional nurse, who “always put the patient first”, and will be greatly missed by his colleagues. He joined us in 2015 as a qualified Staff Nurse having worked for many years at Stockton Hall near York, and progressed to Charge Nurse a year later.

He also took on a number of extra shifts, both as a member of bank staff with us and with the Cygnet Health Group, and many other colleagues knew him through these networks. He was also an active member of our Workforce Race Equality Network and joined in with their activities when he could fit it around his working commitments and family life.

Khuli was someone who took his responsibilities as a trainer and professional mentor very seriously, taking many student nurses under his wing and taking the time to nurture the next generation of talent. He won an award from the University of Leeds for his mentoring work for which he should have been very proud. Colleagues have been working to support our Forensics team over the weekend and will continue to do so throughout the next few weeks as we all come to terms with this loss. Khuli was sent home to self-isolate on 1 April after first showing symptoms, and therefore had minimal contact with patients and service users.

However I’m conscious that staff and service users will have questions and anxieties on hearing this news and we will do all we can to ensure these are addressed. Colleagues in Forensics at the Newsam Centre will be opening a book of condolence in Khuli’s memory which will be held in the family room near Ward 3. If anyone would like to contribute to that, please get in touch with Claire Layton at claire.layton1@nhs.net or Kerry Hinsby at k.hinsby@nhs.net. A number of Khuli’s team and service users have already shared their reflections of him as a colleague, a friend and a nurse, including Wendy Tangen who recruited him to the Trust in 2014.

I have included a selection of these below. If staff need any mental health support during these difficult times, please let me remind you of our Occpuational Health Psychological Support Service. They have experienced counsellors, occupational therapists and mental health nurses who are available to support you through the COVID situation. You can reach them on 07774 335800. The line is open from 8am until 8pm on weekdays and 8am until 4pm on weekends. Please do look after yourselves. I know it is not easy but we must all do what we can to keep ourselves and one another safe.

I thank each and every one of you for all that you are doing. With my deepest respects Sara A tribute from Wendy Tangen, Clinical Services Inclusion Lead and Workforce Race Equality Network Chair I recruited Khulisani Nkala (he preferred us to call him Khuli) to our team as a staff nurse on ward 3 Treatment and Recovery, Low Secure Forensic service in 2015. He later progressed into a Clinical Team Leader’s role. He was an experienced nurse having worked in Stockton Hall Hospital Medium Secure services for several years before joining our Trust.

He was welcomed by team members and fitted in with ease. 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 (including our Bank staff). 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.

He was respected for his professionalism and boundaries yet he was always personable. Over the years Khuli shared many of his own cultural norms with team members and me, this supported team members to understand the importance of taking the full person into consideration when delivering treatment and care.

Khuli joined the Race Equality Network as one of its first members, and whilst he was not able to attend all of the meetings, he received the network’s correspondence and would often contribute his views to me directly in my role as the Chair. Although he can be described as having a strong resilience, he understood the impact on inequalities for BAME staff and service users and was committed to making a difference in their lives.

Khuli has imprinted into our lives in so many ways, for those of us who knew him well he was not just a colleague, he was a friend and one of our brothers…who will be missed dearly.

A selection of tributes to Khuli from colleagues and service users

“What a true gentleman. Always smiling, always happy, caring, compassionate, reliable and the most incredible nurse. Someone you could always turn to. He will be deeply missed. Would do anything for anyone to help people learn and grow; nothing was ever too much to ask! He will always be held in our hearts.”

“I can’t even bring to words how devastating this is. You were a fantastic nurse, role model, colleague and friend. You always had a listening ear. Your smile was brightening and your personality more so. You are an inspiration to me and everyone. I hope to become half the nurse you were. Rest easy up there.”

“Khuli meant many things to many people. His presence was felt by all that came into contact with him. Many would describe him as kind, caring, considerate, advisor, teacher but above all a friend. He would make time for others when no time was available to listen, advise and support. He was a wealth of knowledge and experience, a listening ear, and humble man. He would give without being asked and share his knowledge with all that listened. He was an excellent nurse, mentor and colleague. No words can describe how much he will be missed and will leave a void at work and in each person that known him that no one can fill. “A generous man devises generous things and by generosity he will stand” (Isaiah 32:8) This sums up Khuli he was one of the most generous men have met. May he rest in eternal peace.”

“You were taken too soon but you’ll never be forgotten. Such a gentle and kind soul, so compassionate and dedicated to your patients and your colleagues, it was an absolute honour to be mentored by you and work by your side. Your unconditional belief in me and your support inspired me with confidence and I wouldn’t be the nurse I am today without you. I will never be able to put my appreciation for you into words, as I don’t think many people will be able to, but I hope you can see just how much you meant to everyone and how special you are. You will be missed dearly and will always have a special place in my heart. I hope that one day I’ll be as good a nurse as you and I’ll aim high and dream big just like you always taught me to.”

“Always a smile and a laugh that captured all those around you. You were a big influence on so many of those you worked with. I will always remember one of your sayings after every handover: “let’s have a good shift”. Always started the shift on a positive note. Taken far too soon. Fly high, Khuli.”

Source – online