Lives of the fellows

Ramesh Chandra Joshi

b.8 December 1936 d.15 March 2017
BSc MB BS Christian Medical College Ludhiana(1958) MD Punjab(1963) MRCP(1971) FRCP(1981)

Ramesh Joshi had a long and distinguished career as a consultant physician in respiratory medicine, during which he developed a modern respiratory medicine service, including a first class clinical measurement unit at Walsall Manor Hospital. He was born in Kanpur, India. Both of his parents, Sohan Lal Joshi and Dayawati Joshi, and his grandparents were doctors. He lived an interesting early life before and after the partition of India. His family became the first car owners in the area; they had a black Morris, the only make and colour available. He had a menagerie of pets, including stray dogs, mynah birds and a monkey (which did not stay in the household for long). During the summer months, as he grew older, he used to visit the hill station of Nainital, enjoying walking by himself in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Ramesh’s first intention was to join the Indian Air Force, but when he presented the recruitment document to his father for approval it was immediately ripped up. However, their loss was definitely a gain for medicine and for all the people he treated during his long and illustrious career. Unfortunately, when Ramesh was ready to apply to medical school, he was one year and eight days too young despite his father trying to persuade the only local medical school to bend the rules. The following year, after gaining a BSc, he was still eight days too young, but his father heard about the Christian Medical School in Ludhiana, which allowed entry a month earlier, so he successfully applied there and was one of 50 students admitted. Ramesh’s two younger brothers, Rakesh and Suresh, also became doctors and practised medicine.

Ramesh graduated MB BS in 1958, a pioneer year, as previously the qualification awarded by the College was a licentiate of the state medical facility. He completed an internship in the rural village of Narangwal, before receiving his documentation allowing him to practise medicine.

He gained his MD in 1963 and developed a keen interest in the function of the heart and lungs, an interest which remained throughout his career. He moved to the USA as a research associate at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1966 to 1967, and then went ‘across the pond’ to become a Commonwealth research fellow and subsequently a lecturer in the department of medicine at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. It was here that he met his future wife, Rishi, whilst she was at Birmingham University and they were married in April 1968.

He, his wife and new-born son, Anil, briefly moved back to the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana, where he was an assistant professor, before returning to Queen Elizabeth Hospital as a research fellow and senior registrar and he gained his MRCP.

This was an exciting time to be at the centre of a revolution in the understanding of the physiology of the lungs and pulmonary circulation. Working in this unit with Sir Melville Arnott [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XI, p.29], John Bishop, Gordon Cumming [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XI, p.136], Peter Harris [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] and Donald Heath [Munk’s Roll, Vol.X, p.207], he developed his curiosity in new techniques and treatments which never left him. He always kept up to date and was very knowledgeable about the latest advances in his specialty. He was a member of the BMA, the British Thoracic Society and the British Cardiac Society, and published in journals including Thorax, Respiration, Circulation Research and Cardiovascular Research.

In 1972 he was appointed as a consultant physician in general and respiratory medicine at Walsall Manor Hospital. He found a very busy district hospital with plenty of beds (including those for tuberculosis), but no facilities for measuring lung function. With the help of a young technician, he started to build a full modern lung function unit. When one of the writers (Alan Cunnington) joined the staff in 1979, he was delighted to meet Ramesh again (they had previously met at Queen Elizabeth Hospital). Ramesh proved to be a hardworking, intelligent, thoughtful, considerate and helpful colleague and they became good friends.

As the cardiology service developed it became clear that a combined cardiorespiratory clinical measurement unit would provide the best and most efficient service and, after several years, it came to fruition and was the envy of many larger hospitals. It could only have happened with the strong foundation provided by Ramesh’s foresight and determination.

Ramesh developed his practice by providing dedicated services and specialist clinics and became the lead clinician for lung cancer. Throughout his career he also continued to look after his share of general medical patients.

His outpatient clinics were legendary. If patients needed to be seen then Ramesh would see them. If clinics over-ran and extra patients appeared from nowhere, anxious managers would come running, but Ramesh would be quite unperturbed; he would smile sweetly and then just carry on.

He was a member of Walsall District Health Authority and acted as an assessor for mineworkers respiratory disease claims until 2005.

After retiring at 65 from Manor Hospital, his love of medicine would not let him leave his vocation and until the age of 78 he continued to work in various hospitals around the country until ill health finally forced his retirement. It was often joked that medicine for him was his ‘round of golf’.

Ramesh Joshi died from prostate cancer. He was survived by his wife, Rishi, his two sons, Anil and Raj (who have carried on the family tradition as the fourth generation of doctors), and his three grandchildren.

Alan Cunnington
Anil Joshi
Raj Joshi

(Volume XII , page web)

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