A head of nursing at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust has paid tribute to the “exceptional bravery” of staff who helped protect patients when a man wielding a knife went on the rampage.
Yusuf Aka stabbed an innocent bystander on the doorstep of the emergency department at Leicester Royal Infirmary earlier this year before ransacking the waiting room.
“This was a frightening experience for both patients and staff in the department that night”
He was sentenced to five years imprisonment last week, having pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm (GBH) and other offences.
Among those who confronted Mr Aka was nurse Carolyn Clayton-Baker who shepherded terrified patients out of his way.
CCTV footage of the incident shows her approaching him, giving a person in a wheelchair time to escape.
Professor Mary Dixon-Woods, director of the Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute at the University of Cambridge, was among those who hailed her a “complete hero” for her actions.
However, Ms Clayton-Baker, who no longer works as a nurse, maintained she was just doing her job.
“As soon as I realised he was going to cause havoc I just said, ‘Right everybody out’,” she told the BBC. “I don’t feel brave, it’s just your job, it’s your duty of care to protect your patients.”
“I don’t feel brave, it’s just your job, it’s your duty of care to protect your patients”
Shortly after 2am on 16 January Mr Aka approached two men who were leaving the accident and emergency department and lunged at one of them, stabbing him in the back.
The CCTV footage shows him running after them before turning back and entering the waiting room still clutching the knife.
Once inside the busy reception area, he picked up computer monitors and threw them across the room.
The clip shows staff immediately swing into action to clear the waiting room, with Ms Clayton-Baker and a colleague taking the lead in directing people to safety.
At one point Ms Clayton-Baker walks toward Mr Aka, shown ripping monitors from their sockets and hurling them about the room, allowing a person in a wheelchair to get out of his way. Only once the waiting area is clear does she flee the scene.
Kerry Johnston, emergency department head of nursing at Leicester Hospitals, praised the bravery and quick thinking of staff in the face of danger.
“This was a frightening experience for both patients and staff in the department that night, the impact of which cannot be underestimated,” said Ms Johnston.
“My thanks go to the emergency department staff involved in the incident who showed exceptional bravery in bringing this serious attack to a swift and safe conclusion with the help of Leicestershire police and other members of the public,” she said.
“Aka carried on his rampage oblivious to the panic breaking out behind him”
Investigating officer detective constable Chris Symmonds also praised hospital staff. “This was a terrifying experience not only for the victim who was stabbed but also for the many members of the public and staff who were present that morning,” he said.
“Aka carried on his rampage oblivious to the panic breaking out behind him,” he said. “The actions of members of staff, who quickly took control of the situation and led people out of his way without a thought for their own safety, was commendable and they should be proud of what they accomplished.”
Mr Aka, who is from Leicester, pleaded guilty to GBH – wounding with intent, affray and possession of an offensive weapon at a hearing in May.
He was sentenced for five years for the GBH offence at Leicester Crown Court on 24 August. He was sentenced for 16 months in prison for the other charges to be served concurrently.