Lives of the fellows

Sunil Kumar Mukherjee

b.27 December 1936 d.3 September 2014
MB BS Calcutta(1959) MRCP(1967) MRCP Edin(1967) FRCP Edin(1984) FRCP(1985)

Sunil Mukherjee was a consultant in the department of health care of the elderly at Nottingham City Hospital. Born in Bankura, West Bengal, India, he was one of eight children. His father, Ram Ranjan, was a medical practitioner; his mother, Haridasi Devi, was a housewife. It was a happy childhood, with many friends that he saw on a yearly basis on frequent trips home and he often told stories of walking to school while being followed by a snake! With the support of his family he attended R G Kar Medical College in Calcutta, where he made lifelong friends. (A highlight of his calendar was the annual medical school reunion, which took place at various places around the UK.) While at medical school he became the senior class assistant in pathology in 1956. After gaining a first class honours degree in pathology, he went on to qualify in 1959 and started work as a junior doctor in Calcutta. After a year he returned to Bankura to work in his home town, which he would continue to do throughout his working life.

In 1961 he travelled to England for further work experience. Starting his career in England in Weymouth, he then moved north to St John's Hospital, Halifax, where he met and fell in love with Barbara Stacy, a nurse working in the hospital. He moved to Newsham General Hospital in Liverpool and then went on to Manchester to complete his medical training, taking his membership exams in 1967. In 1968, after a long courtship, Sunil and Barbara were married at Halifax registry office.

In 1971 they moved to Nottingham and Sunil started work as a consultant physician. It was here he stayed until his retirement in 2004. During his time in Nottingham he wrote several papers and presented at conferences on a variety of topics effecting the elderly. These included Marfan syndrome in a 72-year-old, carcinoma of the lung, diabetic neuropathy, primary hyperparathyroidism, chronic megacolon and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This shows his varied interests and why he chose elderly care. In 1995 he started a Parkinson's disease clinic; the clinic grew from fortnightly to two mornings a week, and he reviewed the role of apomorphine in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson's (which had not been done before), presenting his findings in 1997 in a symposium on Parkinson's disease.

Over time his role at the City Hospital changed and he started to care for patients from the age of 16. This led to more time spent on intensive and coronary care units. He was an active member of the drug and therapeutic committee, as well as the library at the City and the Queen’s Medical Centre. Other managerial roles included being chairman of the multi-disciplinary management team and chairman of the Nottingham Health Care Planning Team for the Elderly. Sunil was also active in fundraising to buy equipment for the hospital, such as defibrillators and wheelchairs.

Sunil relished the chance to teach (and learn), and working in a teaching hospital gave him ample opportunity to pass on his vast knowledge through lectures and tutorials. Never satisfied with a yes or no answer, he would also give extensive background and full reasoning to all answers. His ward rounds were legendary (and dreaded by medical students) due to their length. He also acted as an examiner for the medical school. From 1997 he organised a yearly two-week course in Calcutta to help prepare students in India to take the UK MRCP exam.

His colleagues at the City Hospital praised his dedication, caring nature and holistic approach to medicine. The hospital was his second home and Christmas days were spent on his wards, saying hello to all the staff and to each patient under his care. Sunil was an inspiration to his family and co-workers, and the reason why his daughter followed in his footsteps. He had many positive qualities, including a strong work ethic, compassion, morals, kindness and a sense of humour, and he was the most amazing public speaker.

Work took the majority of his time throughout the week, but at weekends he would enjoy cooking wonderful curries and watching old films. Reading The Sunday Times took all day; he would read every page and enjoyed keeping up to date on all current affairs. Natural history and world history were also a passion and after retirement he liked nothing better than to read books on these subjects. He also loved to spend time with his grandchildren, who doted on him as much as he adored them.

He was survived by his wife, who he described as ‘the love of his life’, two children (Anita and Maloy) and four grandchildren.

Anita Mukherjee

[Nottingham Post 23 September 2014 – accessed 27 March 2015; Our Nottinghamshire 23 September 2014 – accessed 27 March 2015; BMJ 2015 350 1528 – accessed 27 March 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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