Lives of the fellows

Bhagwan Khushaldas Samtani

b.21 December 1930 d.2 February 2012
OBE(1991) MB BS Bombay(1954) MRCP(1962) FRCP(1977)

Bhagwan Khushaldas Samtani – known as ‘Bhagu’ and ‘Sam’ at different times in his life - was a consultant physician at Kettering General Hospital. Born in Karachi before the partition of India, he always referred to himself as being of Indian nationality. He was the youngest of the four sons of Khushaldas Wadhumal Samtani, a civil engineer. Educated at St Patrick’s School, Karachi, he also attended Fergusson College, Poona and then studied medicine at Bombay Medical School and King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in Bombay, qualifying in 1954.

In 1955 he travelled to the UK and did house jobs at the War Memorial Hospital in High Wycombe for a year, before moving to the London Chest Hospital and beginning to develop a special interest in cardiology. Further posts followed at the Northampton General Hospital (NGH) and then at Newark Hospital. He returned to High Wycombe as a registrar in 1958 and, the following year, returned to NGH. Two years later, in 1960, he became a senior registrar at NGH where he stayed for five years, also doing locum work in Kettering and at various Oxford hospitals. At Oxford he was taught by Lionel Cosin, a pioneer of geriatric medicine regarded by many as the ‘father’ of the specialty.

Appointed consultant physician in geriatric and general medicine at Kettering General Hospital on the first of January 1966, he worked there for 25 years. His clinical workload was enormous, not helped by the fact that the general and geriatric departments were administratively separated and that the geriatrics department was also located on several sites. While he was in post, he developed a particular research interest in the presentation of pulmonary embolism as atrial tachyarrhythmias in elderly patients, later published in a series of articles in the Scottish Medical Journal. In his turn he became chairman of the Oxford region of the geriatric medical advisory committee. In 1991 he was awarded the OBE.

Keen on sport, he had been ‘sportsman of the year’ while at medical school and continued to play cricket (he was team captain), badminton and tennis. At university he had also been a ballroom dancing champion. Passionate about cars (ironically, in his early days in the UK he had to turn down a job because a vehicle was required and he could not afford one), he owned several sports and luxury cars. A very sociable man, he loved travelling all over the world and meeting people of different races and religions.

In 1956 he married Shirley Gabrielle née Skinner whose father was Reginald James Skinner. They had two sons, Shane and Adrian, and a daughter, Sheena. After his first marriage ended, he met his second wife, Catherine, while working at Kettering General Hospital in 1976 and they married in 1980. With Catherine he had two further children, Carl and Bernice. Catherine and his children survived him when he died in hospital after a chest infection led to pneumonia, following a period of increasing ill health due to heart problems.

RCP editor

[BMJ 2013 37 4221 www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f4221; Northamptonshire Telegraph www.northantstelegraph.co.uk/news/community/community-news/dedicated-doctor-with-real-passion-for-sport-1-3505319 both accessed 6 October 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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