A DOCTOR who volunteered to help the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak was told to buy a tent after he was evicted from his home in Hereford.

Consultant geriatrician Vincent Okafor was recruited some six weeks ago and came to Hereford to help at the county hospital.

He had been renting a room at a house on Folly Lane and things were going well — he was starting to get settled down when he was told on March 23 he needed to leave the property.

“My landlord served me a verbal eviction order to pack out of his property,” he said.

“His reason was that since I work at the hospital and treat the elderly, I was likely to bring the virus to his house.”

Dr Okafor was given until the Friday to vacate the property and was left without anywhere to go.

“I didn’t have anywhere to stay to help the people I was recruited to come and help.”

He called people on a list provided by the hospital’s accommodation officer but got nowhere.

“One lady asked whether I was one of the doctors that had offered to help with the NHS’ fight against coronavirus.

“I told her I was, and she told me she didn’t have any accommodation for me.

“She asked, why don’t you buy a tent?

“I thought to myself, even if I were to do that. Where would I pitch up? At the KFC car park?”

Another person Dr Okafor called told him they wanted six months worth of rent paid up front.

He said he emailed 15 different people asking for somewhere to rent.

But didn’t hear back from any of them.

“I was emailing people without knowing where their properties in Hereford were.

“I was desperate at the time.”

At the end of his shift on March 27, Dr Okafor sat in his vehicle at the hospital car park with his luggage and nowhere to stay.

But luckily, he was offered somewhere to rent in Hampton Dene Road.

“I got talking to someone I met in Folly Lane and he offered me a place to stay for a short while,” he said.

“The guy has been very good. I’ve been in contact with him since and he has offered me more short-stay accommodation if needed.

“That was very nice of him.

Dr Okafor said this sort of gesture restored his faith in humanity.

“I suppose in every community there are always going to be very good people and not-so-good people.”

Over the weekend of March 28, Dr Okafor learned of the death of surgeon Adil El Tayar, who had been living with him in Folly Lane.

Dr El Tayar had finished his work in Hereford and left for London two week’s prior to Dr Okafor’s eviction.

“It goes to show that my former landlord was justified in evicting us from his house,” he said.

Dr Okafor said he bore no animosity towards his former landlord, but said housing for NHS staff at this time of need was proving tricky for some.

He decided to spend last week in isolation in Hereford to see if he developed any Covid-19 symptoms.

He did not, and has now returned home to his family in Birmingham. He left on April 3.

“I wanted to make sure I had no coronavirus symptoms before returning home,” he said.

“I don’t know when I will go back to work.

“I want to take some time to recover and see how the pandemic plays out. There are promising signs but it’s still too early to see.”