Lives of the fellows

Sumeet Chadha

b.7 December 1970 d.4 July 2016
MB BS New Delhi(1993) MD(1996) MRCP(1997) FRCP(2007)

Sumeet Chadha was clinical lead for acute medicine at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital. He was born in the Military Hospital in Jabalpur, India, to Sushil Kumar Chadha, a consultant cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon, and Meenakshi Chadha, a consultant general physician. He was schooled at the General Raj Shankaran Memorial School, New Delhi. He was a hardworking, bright and inquisitive student, who always came top of his class. He was a voracious reader with a hunger for knowledge and the acquisition of new skills in a wide variety of subjects.

On completing his schooling, he came tenth in the Delhi pre-medical examinations, making him eligible for admission to all of the seven medical schools to which he had applied. Sumeet opted to join the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, which accepted only 34 general category students from their entrance exam.

Sumeet was motivated by a desire to help the sick and progressed effortlessly through medical school. During his training and throughout his career, the needs of his patients always came first. He was awarded his MB BS in 1993 and went on to complete an MD in internal medicine in 1995.

The following year, he decided to move to the UK and in 1998, after senior house officer jobs in Norwich and Wrexham, he began a training programme in general and geriatric medicine in Yorkshire. After obtaining his certificate of completion of training in 2003, Sumeet was appointed as a consultant in acute medicine at Solihull Hospital, where he developed the service from scratch. He was later appointed as clinical director for acute medicine across Solihull, Good Hope and Birmingham Heartlands hospitals, before moving to his final post as clinical lead for acute medicine at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital.

His invitation to become a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 2007 was one of the proudest moments in his career.

His diagnosis with gliosarcoma and the abrupt termination of his career in September 2015 left a gaping hole in the acute medicine department.

Sumeet was a truly unique and extraordinary individual – larger than life. He did not tolerate fools and had no time for petty bureaucracy. He had a razor-sharp wit, raucous sense of humour and a ‘colourful’ vocabulary, punctuated by choice expletives. He said things how they were and could be blunt when he needed to be.

Underneath his bravado, however, was a gentle and compassionate man, loyal and supportive of his team, who would go out of his way to help colleagues and their families whenever he could. He knew everybody on the acute medical unit (including domestic and portering staff) by their first name and treated them all as his equal. Everything he did was motivated by a desire to improve patient care and ensure that all staff were treated fairly. Sumeet was an inspirational leader, highly respected by colleagues from all grades and disciplines across the entire trust, and equally by his patients and their families.

Sumeet was frighteningly intelligent and had unparalleled organisational, analytical and problem-solving skills – he consistently delivered, contributing significantly to the development of acute medicine, governance and IT systems throughout the trust.

A self-proclaimed mathematical and statistical genius, he taught himself to write computer code and could programme complex systems and databases with real-world application in medicine. He had a borderline obsessive compulsive disorder with respect to cleanliness and hygiene – most evident around his laptop (‘my baby’) which nobody was allowed to touch.

Despite his hard work and commitment to the NHS, Sumeet maintained an enviable work-life balance and psychological resilience – he was an advocate of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which he practised into the later stages of his illness.

The only thing Sumeet loved more than medicine, coding and his laptop was his family – he worshipped his wife, Sue (née Cannings), and felt eternally grateful for every moment he spent in her company and he idolised his sons, Matthew and Samir, who continue to make him proud.

A bright flame extinguished far too early, Sumeet inspired and touched all our lives, and the lives of countless others, in ways that will never be forgotten.

Tom Heaps

(Volume XII, page web)

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