The BMA has held a memorial service for the doctors who died with Covid during the pandemic, including 16 GPs.
The tribute, which took place today (16 March) at the union’s London headquarters, saw representatives read a list of the names of the doctors known to have died and observe a minute’s silence.
This was followed by a choir and musical ensemble performing ‘We Will Remember, We Can’t Forget’ – a piece which had been composed specifically for the BMA last year.
They were Dr Zishan Haider, Dr Habib Zaidi, Dr Fayez Ayache, Dr Yusuf Patel, Dr Krishan Arora, Dr Craig Wakeham, Dr Kamlesh Kumar Masson, Dr Saad Al-Dubbaisi, Dr Karamat Ullah Mirza, Dr Poornima Nair, Dr Mohinder Singh Dhatt, Dr Abdorreza Sedghi, Dr David Wood MBE, Dr Krishna Korlipara, Dr Augustine Obaro and Dr Abdul-Razaq Abdullah.
This afternoon’s service also included the presentation of a specially commissioned stone sculpture in the courtyard, to act as a permanent memorial to all healthcare workers who have died with Covid.
Council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul singled out the ‘courage and bravery’ shown by healthcare staff throughout this period, whilst expressing his ‘profound sorrow and heartfelt condolences’ to the loved ones of the doctors who died – some of whom attended the event.
Opening the address, Dr Nagpaul said: ‘Through every resurging wave of this pandemic, a constant has been the heroism and selflessness of the medical workforce. As many millions of people sheltered in their homes to limit contact with others, we went to work to care for the sick and the vulnerable. As the virus shut down society, we served the nation. When people were asked to lockdown, they did their duty, and we did ours.
‘It is a cruel tragedy that in saving the lives of tens of thousands of patients, so many doctors lost their own. They dedicated their lives to the pursuit of helping others. Their deeds will inspire generations long after this pandemic has passed.’
Dr Nagpaul, a North London GP, continued: ‘While all these deaths have been such a huge loss to so many, we have heard the inspiring and heart-warming accounts of their lives as doctors, friends and family members.
‘We’ve heard about their hobbies and talents beyond the world of medicine, about their lives as painters, or hill climbers, writers, or musicians. Today we mourn their loss as we celebrate their lives, their passions, and their stories. Each one a unique reminder of the reason so many of us became doctors; the shared respect we have for the sanctity of life. Our memorial today is dedicated to all of them who lived to make the lives of others better.’
Another speaker was Dr Zehra Zaidi, whose father Dr Syed Habib Haider Zaidi, a GP in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, died in March 2020.
She said: ‘My dad would always help people. He was selfless in so many ways.
‘He would go out on Christmas Day in the middle of Christmas dinner, and deliver someone’s baby, or he would go and see a sick child.
‘We never had a funeral for my dad, as funerals were restricted; we buried him and we went home. So it means so much for our family to be able to mark his passing today. It’s been the first time we have all been able to say goodbye properly together. So many people laid down their lives and it’s lovely that we get to remember those people in such a touching way, in a way that they deserved.
‘My dad worked really hard, probably to his detriment, because he was working until he died. He never had a day off, he never retired [and] he never got to do any of the things he should have done. He gave so much to the NHS.
‘He was a great family man, a great family doctor and the most generous and loving individual I have ever known, constantly putting his own needs beneath those of others, and we all miss him immensely.’
In January 2021, the BMA projected a light installation onto its Tavistock Square headquarters to mark the sad milestone of the UK surpassing 100,000 deaths from Covid.