‘His smile lit up a room’: Tributes paid to psychiatric nurse who has died from coronavirus

Khuli Nkala
21 Apr 2020 @ 4.47 pm
| News

A mental health nurse has become the first healthcare worker within the Leeds and York NHS Trust to die from Covid-19.

Khulisani (Khuli) Nkala was 46 and described by colleagues as a “well-respected and selfless professional nurse, who always put the patient first”.

He worked for many years at the Stockton Hall psychiatric hospital just outside York.

Khuli had been working as a charge nurse in the forensic services at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust before he died on April 17, after testing positive for Covid-19.

Dr Sara Munro, chief executive at the trust, said: “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 joined the trust in 2015 as a qualified staff nurse having worked for many years at Stockton Hall.

He was also an active member of the Workforce Race Equality Network and joined in with their activities when he could fit it around his working commitments and family life.

An inspiration

His colleagues described him as a “gentleman” and an “incredible nurse”.

One said: “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.”

Wendy Tangen, clinic services inclusion lead and workforce race equality network chair, said Mr Nkala was “a man of integrity, honour, wit and a smile that lit up any dull room”.

He belonged to the race equality network and was passionate about improving the NHS for BAME healthcare workers and patients.

She said: “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 BAME staff members (including our bank staff).

“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.”