Thousands raised for charity in honour of Rainham GP who died after contracting Covid
- Credit: Dr Abdul-Razaq Abdullah's family
Almost £9,000 has been raised for charity in honour of a "gentle giant" Rainham GP who died after contracting Covid.
Dr Abdul-Razaq Abdullah, 68, died in December at Queen's Hospital, Romford, where he spent a month suffering from the virus.
The father-of-five worked with the NHS for more than 30 years after coming to the country from Iraq in 1985.
He worked first as a doctor at the former Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, before establishing his own GP surgery at Rainham Health Centre in Upminster Road South.
His daughter Ayat said being a GP "meant the world to him".
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"It was the only thing keeping him going really", she added. "He had a lot of pressure to retire from everyone, family members, because he was at risk.
"He was so loyal to his patients and being the only GP there, he didn't want to let his patients down.
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"He wanted to continue looking after them, knowing the risks to himself and knowing that he could die, he continued working and looking after people.
"He survived the first wave and was really relieved but he still continued seeing patients.
"He put others before himself and that was just his nature. He always did that."
Dr Abdullah's family set up a fundraising page in his honour, asking for donations to Al-Ayn Social Care Foundation, which supports orphaned children living in poverty.
Ayat said her father was a charitable person and had bought 100 school uniforms for orphans only days before his admission to hospital.
She added: "My dad would have preferred people donating money to charity as that's the type of person he was. That's what he would have been grateful for.
"If any goodness can come out of this, that's what he would have wanted."
Ayat revealed that staff at his surgery told her that patients used to nickname him "the gentle giant".
"When you looked at him, he looked really intimidating because he was really tall.
"But when you got to know him, you would see that he was really soft and gentle, and had a really nice sense of humour."
Tributes to Dr Abdullah were also paid by Dr Atul Aggarwal, chair of Havering Clinical Commissioning Group.
Dr Aggarwal said: "He was a selfless and compassionate man who loved his patients and was popular and respected among his peers. His death is a tragic loss to our GP community."
A spokesperson for the Barking, Dagenham and Havering Local Medical Committee, which represents GPs, added: “Dr Abdullah was not only a very caring and hard working doctor but was highly popular among all his patients and staff. Many of his colleagues referred to him as a gentle giant.
"He was always there to help and support his GP colleagues.
"We hope that the surgery will continue to provide high quality care to his practice population. He will be greatly missed by all.”
Ayat is among three siblings who are also doctors, and she is working in Redbridge to deliver Covid vaccines.
She said her father missed out on one by a week and believes that the government should consider giving people from ethnic minorities priority access to the vaccine.
She also said that the government should have prioritised older doctors of black or Asian origin "because they are the most at risk".
Describing the lack of personal, protective equipment (PPE) as "obvious", Ayat added: "I went to Screwfix and bought my dad a mask for £20 because the masks they are provided with in primary care are just ridiculous.
"They should be given FFP3 masks, which have a valve in them and protect you against higher-risk patients who most likely have Covid.
"You're going into people's houses, you're looking after patients dying of cancer and you're examining them with this dinnerlady apron on. It's ridiculous."
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Our deepest sympathies are with the families of every health and care worker who has died during the pandemic.
"Every death is a tragedy, and we are working tirelessly to do everything we can to make sure they are kept safe while they save the lives of others.
“Health and social care staff are on the frontline and we made sure they were at the front of the queue for the Covid-19 vaccine since the rollout began, alongside the most vulnerable people in society.
"NHS England is accelerating the number of vaccinations being given to frontline workers every day."
To donate to the fundraising page, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/dr-abdullah