An NHS worker says he felt honoured when he stepped up and worked 43 consecutive days during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, to deal with the high demand and cover for ill colleagues.

Emmanuel Madugbah, an admin coordinator at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow, made sacrifices like many NHS workers during the pandemic peak.

The Watford man was unable to celebrate his daughter’s eight birthday as a precaution, as he knew his daily presence at hospital could put his daughter at risk.

Northwick Park Hospital was one of the worst hit hospitals during the early stages of the peak, and on March 20 it became the first hospital in the UK to declare a critical incident due to a surge of coronavirus patients.

At the time many workers at the hospital spoke to the Harrow Times and Watford Observer about how “strained” they felt and concerns for their safety. The London North West University Healthcare (LNWH) NHS Trust quickly worked together to gain some stability in tackling the virus.

But with many workers calling in sick during the peak, Mr Madugbah felt like it was his duty to make sure he keeps the hospital running as efficiently as possible.

He said: “I had to step up and do all of the shifts. I was coming in literally every day. My manager did not take notice until one day when I logged in online and realised.

“They needed someone to cover the shift and we were short on most days. So, there was need for someone to be there, and that’s what kept me going on.”

The first Covid-19 patient to be admitted at the hospital was at March 4, and the number of patients rose sharply after.

Recalling the demand, Mr Madugbah said: “Then, the hospital was not prepared for this – nobody was – so this was so different to everyone.

“I had to witness situations where people were brought into the ambulance and then within two or three hours, they are dead.

“We had situations where the mortuary had to be extended because we could not take bodies any longer. And they had to employ (additional) porters to help with the moving of bodies as well. We never experienced anything like it, so it was mentally challenging.”

However, despite the initial shock, the hospital trust quickly adapted to gain control.

Mr Madugbah said: “But the hospital did a good job. They set up a team so if you think you’ve been affected by things going on around you, they’d help with your mental health and emotional needs.”

Watford Observer:

Emmanuel Madugbah was dedicated to help out as much as possible during the coronavirus peak

Many of his colleagues became sick, and he knew of a few that were hospitalised due to the coronavirus symptoms, and he knew that some staff members had died.

One nurse was admitted to hospital for five weeks after contracting Covid-19. Mr Madugbah had walked with her at the hospital the night before, and the next day he came in to find out she was in admission.

Franco Palo, another nurse who had a nine-week battle with coronavirus was cheered out of hospital when he became the 1,000th patient to be discharged at the trust.

Read more: Nurse who had coronavirus for nine weeks discharged from hospital

Mr Madugbah, who worked at the hospital since 2011, said that seeing his colleagues affected by the virus had scared him during the time.

But the admin coordinator was impressed when things started turning around, and he noticed admission numbers and deaths were declining.

After missing his daughter’s eight birthday, he promised he would make it up to her once things were safer. And he did by taking her to intu Watford and saying he would buy whatever she wants.

“It was lowkey, it wasn’t how we’d normally celebrate it as a family.”

On his first day off, Mr Madugbah said he used the day to reflect on everything that happened and relaxed by watching a movie.

He said: “It just changed the way I see life. My whole idea of the way life can just be taken away from you, it made me value my mortality as a person. I became more grateful for being able to work through A&E, see what I saw and still be the same person as I am.”

“It was so gratifying to be there to help and cover my colleagues who were off sick and be there when my team needed me. I’m so happy I was part of that team.”

Despite the struggling time, Mr Madugbah hypothesised if a ‘second wave’ were to ever occur and if the hospital were to become overwhelmed again, he would again dedicate his time to help out as he did.

The trust has revealed they do have a recovery plan in place to gain ground lost during the pandemic and are working towards the resumption of normal services.

The trust has also been ranked by NHS England as the best performing A&E in London for seeing 95.25 per cent of its patients within the agreed four-hour target.

Chris Bown, CEO of LNWH trust, said: “The staff response to the pandemic has been extraordinary with both clinical and non-clinical teams working tirelessly over a period of several months.

“This was something none of us had faced before and it was fantastic to see everybody come together to meet this challenge. We always speak of the NHS as a family and that spirit is what got us through, despite numerous challenges and pressures.

“This appreciation has been recognised within the trust and by the media but staff have remained remarkably modest.”