An NHS nurse known as the "big friendly giant" has died with coronavirus aged 46, with his brother claiming he was not given adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Father-of-two Andrew Ekene Nwankwo worked as a locum nurse at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.

He died on May 16 after five weeks on a ventilator at the hospital where he worked.

A spokesman for the hospital said there has "never been a lack of PPE"


Mr Nwankwo was born in the UK to Nigerian parents.

He spent his childhood in Nigeria, returning to the UK as a young adult.

He had worked for the NHS for more than 10 years and lived in Chelmsford.

His brother Tochukwu Nwankwo, 45, said Andrew had no underlying medical conditions.

He said Andrew first reported Covid-19 symptoms on April 4 and went into self-isolation but his condition worsened and he was left gasping for breath.

Andrew called NHS 111 on April 10 and was advised to call an ambulance, his brother said, but "they said that because he could still make full sentences he wasn't considered enough of a risk for an ambulance".

He said Andrew's wife drove him to hospital in the early hours of April 11 as his condition deteriorated further and he was put on a ventilator later that day.

Andrew remained in the intensive care unit after that.

"His colleagues who looked after him, they did a great job without a doubt," Tochukwu said.

"It's the circumstances surrounding this whole thing, I get really angry when it comes to that because I know that this could have easily been avoided."

He said he had asked Andrew, before he became unwell, if he had enough PPE.

"He said to me the PPE is not there and he actually tried to procure some himself from eBay," he said.

"At that early stage when there was no PPE, that's when he caught this because he was being sent out there to treat patients without adequate protection.

"Then when it came to the time when he needed help, when the ambulance would not come at the time, even though he as a nurse explained his symptoms to them and they decided that because he was making full sentences, which he wasn't really, that they weren't going to send an ambulance.

"So there he was and his wife, in the early hours of Saturday, had to take the risk of driving him to the hospital."

He added: "That's when he ended up in ICU and from there he went downhill.

"He was being sent to face the danger without being given the adequate protection, that's the bottom line and he told me as much.

"That's what's really annoying and I'm really angry about this whole thing."

It was Andrew's 10th wedding anniversary on April 18 while he was in a medically induced coma.

"We were told he was getting better," Tochukwu said.

"We thought 'oh wow, how wonderful that this should happen on his wedding anniversary' but alas he then got worse after that.

"He didn't progress to get better as was expected."

Tochukwu described his brother as "very genial".

"People referred to him as the big friendly giant," he said.

"He was quite big, about 6ft 1in with a bulky build, he was humble, very down to earth, kind-hearted, that's why he went into this, always willing to help people."

Andrew leaves behind his wife Ifeyinwa Ezeoji-Nwankwo, 39, and their two daughter Kaima, eight, and four-year-old Kamsi.

A Broomfield Hospital spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with Andrew's family at this very sad time.

"There has never been a lack of PPE at Broomfield Hospital.

"The safety of all of our staff is our absolute priority and we have worked incredibly hard to ensure there have always been sufficient stocks of protective equipment for every member of staff who needs it."

A GoFundMe page has been set up to support his family at