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Coronavirus: Minute’s silence held at Whittington to remember staff who have died

'Remember the dead and fight for the living'

28 April, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Flowers laid outside the Whittington Hospital

FLOWERS were laid and a minute’s silence was held at the Whittington Hospital as unions and staff remembered the frontline workers who have died during the coronavirus pandemic.

Every year unions come together for the International Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have died while working but this year the day has been dedicated to victims of the coronavirus.

A socially distanced group of trade unionists, including the National Education Union (NEU), Unite, Unison and the RMT, gathered outside the Whittington at 11am today (Tuesday) while hospital staff gathered inside.

Unions stage socially distanced protest calling for more PPE and testing

As the Tribune previously reported, a porter at the Archway hospital named Nick Joseph has died after contracting coronavirus while a nurse called “Shamila”, who was on maternity leave, has also died, but it is not known whether Covid-19 was a factor.

Two care workers in the Highbury New Park home also passed away suffering with a Covid-19 infection.

Mike Gilgunn, chairman of the Islington Trades Union Council, said: “Each year April 28 marks International Workers memorial day in which we remember those that have lost lives at work. This year we remember those workers who have died as a result of Coronavirus including NHS staff and health workers around the world.”

The minute’s silence was also dedicated to the bus drivers like Emeka Nyack-Ihenacho who worked out of the Holloway Bus Garage and sadly died after contracting Covid-19.

NEU spokesman Ken Muller, who helped organise the protest, said: “The minute’s silence was called by several national trade unions including UNISON, RCN, RCM and UNITE to mark International Workers Memorial Day.

“The slogan ‘Remember the dead and fight for the living’ is fully appropriate at a time when so many health and care workers, bus drivers and others – many of them BAME – have tragically lost their lives.”

A Whittington spokeswoman told the Tribune that the hospital did not have issues with personal protective equipment at the moment.

Siobhan Harrington, Whittington Health NHS Trust chief executive, said: “It is heart-breaking when any member of the NHS loses their life. Today was a special moment for us all to come together to remember all of those heroes from health, care and other frontline services who have sadly passed away whilst working for the good of us all. The thoughts of everyone at Whittington Health are with anyone who has lost someone special to them.”

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