The leader of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust has called this the "darkest week since the trust was formed" after they were forced to say goodbye to two hospital staff members who died after contracting coronavirus.

Esther Akinsanya and Grace Kungwengwe, both healthcare assistants, passed away within the last week whilst being treated in intensive care units in hospitals in Lewisham and Greenwich.

Esther died in intensive care at Queen Elizabeth Hospital on April 15.

Grace, a mother of two, also died in a critical care unit at University Hospital Lewisham on April 19.

News Shopper: Grace Kungwengwe (gofundme)Grace Kungwengwe (gofundme)

Chief executive of the trust Ben Travis tweeted out saying it was "the darkest week since LGT was formed 7 years ago," and announced a fundraising page had been set up in memory of the "much-loved colleagues."

Mr Travis said in a statement on Tuesday: “Sadly, I can confirm that Esther Akinsanya and Grace Kungwengwe, two members of staff, have passed away."

"Many colleagues will have worked with Esther and Grace, and our thoughts are with their families, loved ones and colleagues during this desperately sad time.

"We have set up a fundraising page to support the families of colleagues who have died."

The fund, set up "in loving memory of staff who worked at LGT", can be found at

So far, just over £4,000 has been raised by supporters, and the funds raised will be shared equally with the families of those who have died.

Greenwich Council leader Dan Thorpe also passed on his condolences, saying he was "deeply saddened to learn that two NHS staff members had lost their lives to this dreadful disease."

He added that Esther Akinsanya & Grace Kungwengwe had made the ultimate sacrifice, and that he hoped the thoughts & prayers of all of Greenwich are with their families tonight.

According to NHS England, 619 people have died from Covid-19 in south east London hospitals.

So far, the PA News Agency has verified 80 deaths of people working for the NHS since March 25, whilst dozens of others are yet to be confirmed.