Lives of the fellows

Subrata Maitra

b.8 September 1956 d.17 March 2016
MB BS Calcutta(1981) MRCP(1985) MRCPI(1985) FRCP Edin(1995) FRCP(2000) DNB

Subrata Maitra was a consultant physician in Kolkata, India, specialising in critical care medicine. He was born in Calcutta, into a prominent family from Krishnanagar, Nadia, in West Bengal. His father, Kashi Kanta Maitra, was a lawyer and his mother, Reba Maitra, was a housewife. His paternal grandfather, Lakshmi Kanta Maitra, was a Member of Parliament, one of the founders of the Indian Constitution and a close associate of Jawaharlal Nehru. His mother’s family members were eminent medical specialists in a then undivided Bengal. His grandfather was Bhupesh Lahiri, a doctor, whose son, Bhabesh Lahiri, was a legendary gynaecologist who had trained in the UK.

Maitra was educated at the Jagadbandhu Institution, Calcutta, and went on to the Calcutta National Medical College, qualifying with an MB BS in 1981. In 1985 he gained his memberships of the Royal College of Physicians of London and of Ireland. He also obtained a highly competitive national diploma in general medicine from India – the Diplomate of National Board.

He spent more than eight years in the UK, working initially as a senior house officer and subsequently as a registrar at Middlesbrough General Hospital and a research registrar at Leeds General Infirmary.

In 1990, he returned to Calcutta. He joined Woodlands Hospital, a premier private hospital in the city, working in critical care medicine. Gradually, he became well known in the elite circles of the city; his reputation rested on his ability to interact sympathetically with his patients. He served as head of the intensive therapy unit at Belle Vue Hospital, Kolkata, from 2002 until 2016. During these years, he treated many famous personalities, including intellectuals, film stars, writers, artists, lawyers and politicians.

He was one of the founder members of the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine and organised an international conference in 1994 in Calcutta. He presented papers at various conferences and published articles in magazines and journals. He also authored a book Experience with evidence in clinical practice (Kolkata, Soma Books, 2004), now in its second edition. In 2000 he was honoured to be elected as a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

His most unique contribution was the founding of a non-profit making hospital in the area of Sunderbans in rural West Bengal to help the marginalised people of that region.

Maitra was always an ardent lover of nature and regularly visited the marshy forest areas of the Sunderbans, hoping to spot one of the famed royal Bengal tigers. He was a member of Greenpeace.

He served as chairman of the multidisciplinary expert group of the government of West Bengal from 2011 to 2016. During this period, he made extensive visits to the rural areas of West Bengal, trying to implement measures which would be beneficial to the poor as well as the privileged. He created snake bite centres to promote awareness among villagers of ways of avoiding being bitten by snakes.

His unique contribution to medicine in Kolkata was the creation of Medical Consortium, a group of doctors ranging from consultants to junior doctors, coordinators and other supporting staff, including physiotherapists and secretaries. Maitra himself was almost always available to the patients through his team. This team also ensured proper follow-up of patients in the community as outpatients. His patients were consistently satisfied with the quality of medical service and counselling carried out by Maitra and his staff. By nature, he believed in working as a team and had the leadership qualities to promote unity within it.

Subrata Maitra died from a brain tumour at the age of just 59, at the helm of his career. He was able to touch many lives and his untimely death came as a profound shock to thousands of people. The Medical Consortium founded by him commemorated his life with a series of meetings, lectures and a publication (released in December 2016) and with a pledge to continue his principles of working together.

He was survived by his wife, Chaitali, a professor of English literature, and two sons (one a doctor), both of whom work in England.

Chaitali Maitra

[Wikipedia – Subrata Maitra – accessed 31 May 2017; Business Standard 17 March 2016 – accessed 31 May 2017; The Telegraph India 18 March 2016 – accessed 31 May 2017; Millennium Post 18 March 2016 – accessed 31 May 2017]

(Volume XII, page web)

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