Tributes have poured in for award-winning former Tameside GP and leading NHS campaigner Dr Kailash Chand OBE, who has passed away at the age of 73.
His son Dr Aseem Malhotra tweeted to say that his father had suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday evening (26 July) after experiencing central chest pain.
Two hours later, Dr Malhotra - a consultant cardiologist - confirmed the sad news, describing him as "the most wonderful, kind, loving father in the world".
This will be the longest train journey of my life. On route to Manchester to say goodbye to the most wonderful, kind loving father in the world. I’m in total shock.— Dr Aseem Malhotra (@DrAseemMalhotra) July 26, 2021
Dr Chand's early career
Kailash was born in Shimla, in Northern India, in 1948. His father worked on the Indian railways and Kailash was educated in Punjab.
He graduated in medicine from the Punjabi University Patialia and was employed as a medical officer in Kurukshetra University.
Kailash was already married with two sons before coming to the UK in 1978 to take up a clinical attachment at the Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool and also to study Tropical Medicine at Liverpool University.
He intended to return to his family once he had improved his qualifications. However, he decided to remain after his wife and children joined him in the UK.
Dr Kailash Chand OBE (right) with his son Dr Aseem Malhotra
An award-winning doctor and champion of the NHS
Kailash worked for 25 years as a GP in Ashton, receiving various accolades such as 'Dedicated Doctor of the Year' by Doctor magazine and 'GP of the Year' from the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Dr Chand was the first Asian honorary vice president of the British Medical Association (BMA), as well as stints as Chair of Healthwatch Tameside, and also Tameside and Glossop Primary Care Trust.
He was an activist for the BMA and deputy chair of the BMA Council - representing 150,000 doctors across the UK - between 2012 and 2016, whilst serving on various BMA committees - including the General Medical Council working group, General Practitioners Committee and as vice chair of the Equality Opportunities Committee.
During his 35-year career in the NHS, the eminent GP tirelessly campaigned for improving standards and fought to stop it from being privatised, as well as promoting public health at a local, regional and national level.
He chaired NHS Tameside and Glossop in 2009, aiming to ensure that the entire health economy worked together to improve the health of the local population and to reduce health inequalities.
Dr Chand received an OBE for services to the NHS and health care in 2010, and was presented with the award by Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace.
He was named on the list of the Health Service Journal's top 50 healthcare pioneers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.
In November 2018, Dr Chand's wife Anisha Malhotra, who was a GP herself for 25 years, sadly passed away at the age of 68 following a short illness.
In 2019, Dr Chand was named in medical magazine Pulse's top 50 most influential GPs in the country for helping to shape healthcare.
He had also recently been a visiting professor of health and wellbeing at the University of Bolton.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, he spoke to local and national media to offer his expert opinion, as well as give advice and guidance to the public.
Back in December, he spoke to Tameside Radio urging everyone to receive the Covid-19 vaccine when they got the call and help the NHS.
He also worked closely on local and political issues, such as homelessness, and was passionate about anti-racism.
We were with Dr Chand as recently as May when he turned out in Denton during Andy Burnham's campaign to be re-elected as Mayor of Greater Manchester. Here they are pictured outside the Wellness Centre.
Mr Burnham described Dr Chand as 'one of the kindest souls ever to have walked this earth'.
He tweeted: "Heartbroken about the sudden loss of my dear friend, Kailash. He was everything to me and the NHS was everything to him. One of the kindest souls ever to have walked this earth. You gave me so much and your legacy will live on. RIP Dr Kailash Chand OBE."
Heartbroken about the sudden loss of my dear friend, Kailash.— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) July 27, 2021
He was everything to me and the NHS was everything to him.
One of the kindest souls ever to have walked this earth.
You gave me so much and your legacy will live on.
RIP @KailashChandOBE. 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/wio7avI0IL
He is one of many politicians, fellow GPs, organisational bodies and members of the local community who have paid tribute to Dr Chand and offered their condolences to his family and friends.
Tameside Reporter editor Nigel Skinner was a former patient and a friend of Kailash's for a number of years.
Paying tribute, Nigel said: "Kailash was my GP before he retired, but over the last 21 years I am proud to have been able to call Kailash one of my dearest and truest friends.
"We played badminton every week for countless years – although I say ‘played’ – really he played and I watched! We were only speaking last week about when we would start again.
"I am in tears tonight – I will miss his wonderful words of wisdom, his personal guidance and the light and joy I know he brought not only into my life – but the lives of so many.
"And while I am grief stricken - as so many will be - my heart goes out to his son Aseem. Rest in peace Kailash, and thank you for being my friend."
'A true socialist who always defended our NHS'
The British Medical Association, the trade union and professional body for doctors and medical students in the UK, where Dr Chand had held several positions, paid a heartfelt tribute on Twitter.
They wrote: "We are shocked and saddened to hear that Prof Kailash Chand OBE FRCGP has passed away. Vice President, former deputy council chair, GPC member and staunch defender of the NHS, his was a life of service to his patients and fellow doctors and all at the BMA will miss him deeply."
We are shocked and saddened to hear that Prof Kailash Chand OBE FRCGP has passed away.— The BMA (@TheBMA) July 26, 2021
Vice President, former deputy council chair, GPC member and staunch defender of the NHS, his was a life of service to his patients and fellow doctors and all at the BMA will miss him deeply.
Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Tameside Hospital, said he was 'always a true advocate for the NHS'.
They tweeted: "Kailash was always a true advocate for the NHS, both locally, in Tameside, and at a national level. You will be truly missed by all your friends at Tameside and Glossop IC NHS FT. Our thoughts are with Aseem and family for their very sad loss. Rest in peace, Kailash."
Kailash was always a true advocate for the NHS, both locally, in Tameside, and at a national level. You will be truly missed by all your friends at Tameside and Glossop IC NHS FT. Our thoughts are with Aseem and family for their very sad loss. Rest in peace, Kailash.— T&G Integrated Care (@tandgicft) July 27, 2021
NHS Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group described him as a 'true gentleman' who will be 'a great loss to our local community'.
They said: "We are deeply saddened by the news of Dr Kailash Chand OBE passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his son and extended family.
"Dr Chand was a true gentleman foremost and an inspiration for the campaigning he did in support of the NHS, his passion, commitment and care for local people.
"Working as a GP in Tameside, he was also Chair of Board at NHS Tameside and Glossop Primary Care Trust from 2009 - prior to the opening of the CCG. He was awarded an OBE for services to the NHS and Healthcare – something he was absolutely delighted to have received. He is a great loss to our local community."
Peter Denton, Manager at Healthwatch Tameside, said: "This is devastating news for us. Kailash Chaired our most recent Board meeting only two weeks ago and we were very much talking about our future work on behalf of the local population. He was so much more than our Chair. He was a true champion for local people and a great friend of all who knew him."
Liz Windsor-Welsh, Action Together's Chief Executive, added: "So sad to hear this. A truly inspirational man in so many ways and a huge loss to so many. Sending our condolences and thoughts to Kailash's family and friends."
Ashton-under-Lyne MP Angela Rayner said Dr Chand's death is 'such a devastating blow to our community'.
She added: "Rest In Peace Dr Kailash Chand, a brilliant GP who was a fearless defender of our NHS campaigning against privatisation. Thank you for everything you did for all of us, you were loved by our community and you will be hugely missed."
This is such a devastating blow to our community. Rest In Peace Dr Kailash Chand, a brilliant GP who was a fearless defender of our NHS campaigning against privatisation. Thank you for everything you did for all of us, you were loved by our community & you will be hugely missed. https://t.co/NsKJOkG12c— Angela Rayner 🌹 (@AngelaRayner) July 27, 2021
Denton MP Andrew Gwynne said: "I’m so heartbroken to hear of the death of my good friend Kailash Chand. A Tameside GP, an NHS campaigner, a socialist and a friend. My thoughts and prayers are with Aseem and family. Rest in peace Kailash and may light perpetual shine upon him."
🖤 I’m so heartbroken to hear of the death of my good friend Kailash Chand. A Tameside GP, an NHS campaigner, a socialist and a friend.— Andrew Gwynne MP 🇺🇦 (@GwynneMP) July 26, 2021
My thoughts and prayers are with Aseem and family. Rest in peace Kailash and may light perpetual shine upon him. 😢 pic.twitter.com/AoJTC6Tj6x
Posting a picture of the two of them together, Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds said: "Terribly sad to learn that my friend Dr Kailash Chand has passed away following a cardiac arrest. Kailash made a tremendous contribution to British healthcare including as Chair of Tameside and Glossop Primary Care Trust.
"He was honorary Vice President of the British Medical Association; a writer on health issues for The Guardian and HSJ; and for many years, as my GP. He was a long serving Labour Party activist and campaigner, and will be deeply missed by his children and the Tameside community. Sleep tight dear friend."
'He made the world a better place'
Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: "So sad at the death of Dr Kailash Chand - a true socialist who always defended our NHS. In his memory, stop privatisation and create a National Care Service. RIP and thank you for a wonderful life of care."
Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Jon Ashworth said: "I’m so shocked & sad we’ve lost Dr Kailash Chand OBE - he was a towering figure in the medical community and a passionate campaigner for a public NHS. I always read his Pulse insights and just the other week I was in text conversation with him about the Health Bill. RIP Kailash."
I’m so shocked & sad we’ve lost @KailashChandOBE - he was a towering figure in the medical community and a passionate campaigner for a public NHS. I always read his @pulsetoday insights & just the other week I was in text conversation with him about the Health Bill. RIP Kailash.— Jonathan Ashworth (@JonAshworth) July 26, 2021
Tameside Council leader Councillor Brenda Warrington posted: "Shocked and saddened by the news of the sudden passing of my dear friend Dr Kailash Chand OBE. A committed socialist, a compassionate GP and friend to many. He made the world a better place.
"My thoughts and prayers are with his son Aseem and family at this sad time."
Ashton Waterloo councillor Vimal Choksi said: "Shocked and saddened by the news of the sudden passing of my friend Dr Kailash Chand OBE. A committed socialist, a passionate NHS campaigner. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time."
Shocked and saddened by the news of the sudden passing of my friend @KailashChandOBE. A committed socialist, a passionate NHS campaigner.— Cllr Vimal Choksi MBE (@ChoksiVimal) July 26, 2021
My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad time. pic.twitter.com/aV3OXGvEJY
Audenshaw councillor Oliver Ryan tweeted: "So saddened to hear that my good friend and proud member of the Tameside Labour family Dr Kailash Chand OBE has passed away. Kailash was a kind, generous and hugely intelligent man, a socialist and a loving father. Kailash you'll be missed, and we'll all miss your vigour and spirit."