Hailed as the backbone of the UK's National Health Service (NHS), Indian medics and clinicians have a long history of fighting on the country's healthcare frontlines. The coronavirus pandemic has once again thrust their contribution to the fore, with many of them losing their own battle with life while trying to save others from a deadly virus.
July 1948 marks a historic moment in British history as the day the NHS was created a pioneering vision to provide every British citizen with free healthcare at the point of access. Since its inception, Indians have been its lifeblood, keeping the service going when it was on the brink of collapse in the 1960s.
Now, 70 years on, as a result of some targeted recruitment drives over the years, they make up over 43 per cent of an estimated NHS workforce of 150,000. A recent Institute?of Fiscal Studies?(IFS) study found that one in 10 foreign-born doctors in the health service are from India quite simply, they are crucial to the very survival of the UK's treasured institution that is the NHS.
In this two-part special Tribute Series, iGlobal? shines a light on these key workers who have now been proven to be at a higher risk of dying from Covid-19 by the UK government's own review. As the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) among other groups lobby for a clear way forward? with recommendations to address these serious health inequalities, we pay tribute to over 20 of these Global Indians who made the ultimate sacrifice in their line of duty with the NHS.
Dr Agarwal arrived in the UK with nothing but a 5 note in his pocket and a cardiology diploma that was unrecognised in the UK, but he went on to making a mark with a distinguished NHS career. The 68-year-old, a leading cardiologist originally from Lucknow in northern India, published over 100 papers with the aim of expanding our understanding of heart arrhythmia and the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Dr Agarwal was a Consultant Cardiologist at Cambridge University Teaching Hospitals, where he was recognised with a Clinical Excellence Award. Labelled a hero? by the patients he cared for, Dr Arora's career as a GP in Croydon, south London, spanned 27 years until he became the first medic from Croydon to die from Covid-19 in April, aged 57. He is remembered as being passionate about both the NHS and his job. During his long and illustrious career, Dr Arora was on South West London's NHS England online consultation board, and was also one of the directors on the Croydon GP collaborative.
Dr Babu, known fondly to everyone as Babu, was a Senior House Officer in elderly care at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, east London. His death was announced recently by Barts Health NHS Trust.
Amrik Bamotra, known to his colleagues as Bob?, worked as a radiology support worker at the King George Hospital in Ilford, east London, for four years. His family and friends remember him as always being positive about everything he did? and going that extra mile to help people. Amrik's son, Harry, have set up a fundraising campaign in his father's memory to raise funds for King George & Queen's Hospitals Charity.
Sharad worked in the central booking team for outpatients? appointments at Watford General Hospital in Hertfordshire before contracting the virus. The NHS trust, where he was working since 2017, said: He was funny and always willing to help and ready for a challenge. He was committed to his position and well-liked by all the team.
Nurse Philomina, 62, dedicated her career to the NHS. Originally from Kerala in southern India, she worked at the Acute Admissions Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. Philomina was planning to retire in two years after working for the NHS for 40 years. Her friends and colleagues describe her as a great human being, for whom nursing was not just a profession, but a passion. Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) said: She was a popular and hugely valued member of our OUH nursing family, who will be sorely missed by her colleagues as well as by her family and friends.
Colleagues remember Amarante Dias, 55, as a valued and much-loved staffer at Weston General Hospital in North Somerset.The Weston Super Mare Association of Malayalees joined in the tributes and organised a virtual funeral for him. Dr William Oldfield, Medical Director at the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS trust,'said the hospital was deeply saddened? by his loss.
Dr Dhatt from Slough had a 54-year career in the NHS. At 80 years old and still on the frontline, Dr Dhatt was one of the longest-serving GPs in Berkshire. He had been working at the Kumar Medical Centre, and previously as a partner at Langley Health Centre. Local Labour Party MP Tanmnanjeet Singh Dhesi was among those to pay tribute to him as a highly respected? medic, who did a lot for the local community.
Sophie, a 78-year-old Homerton Hospital support worker, had refused to retire because she said she wanted to make a difference? and caring for the elderly was her passion. She arrived from India in 1961 aged 16 to begin her nurse training and went on to join the NHS. The Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said Sophie was part of the healthcare fabric? of London's Hackney borough.
Dr Gupta completed his medical qualifications from Jammu University in 1997 and moved to the UK in 2006. He worked as a specialist pain medicine and Consultant Anaesthetist at the NHS-run Wexham Park Hospital in Berkshire.
Dr Gupta had been self-isolating at a hotel to protect his family from coronavirus, where he was found dead. The Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust paid tribute to their popular? colleague and outstanding clinician with a passion for pain medicine. Dr Gupta's colleagues also remember him as a writer, gifted poet, painter, photographer and cook, who was known for his enthusiasm, good nature and kindness.
Dr Kalraiya, 63, was a Consultant Paediatrician with the NHS in north-east London, who was working as a locum in Romford when he fell ill. Originally from Nagpur in western India, he had a 40-year distinguished spell at the NHS, during which he earned the respect of his colleagues. The North East London Foundation Trust described him as a highly valued and respected colleague?.
It is very traumatic to hear of the passing of a colleague and friend, who had graduated from the same medical school as me in Nagpur, said Dr Ramesh Mehta, President of BAPIO.
*Part 2 in the series with further tributes to follow. If you would like to share a personal tribute to a Global Indian NHS key worker, please get in touch through our Facebook/ Instagram/Twitter.