On Monday morning, our features assistant Ellie received a call from Dr Kailash Chand about his latest blog on the 3% pay rise for NHS staff. We were expecting that call. Kailash was nothing if not persistent. He called me a number of times about a blog he had submitted. Sometimes, it was bordering on annoying! ‘We will definitely publish it,’ I would tell Kailash, ‘but just give us a chance to look through it first!’
Any annoyance would dissipate immediately, as his charming self came through. ‘I know you will, Jaimie, and I trust you. I just want to get this message out,’ he would say. ‘It’s shocking how this government is treating the people who have been working this hard and is putting patients at risk.’ For Kailash, getting his name in an article wasn’t his motivation for writing and campaigning – it was always to highlight injustices. And, for Kailash, with his decades on the frontline of general practice, this was almost invariably about the NHS.
Kailash’s death later on Monday has hit a lot of people. Almost everyone has since spoken about his passion for the NHS – and this is something he would surely have liked. In so many conversations you had with him, this would shine through, and especially his care for patients and – more than anything – the people working within it. His fear was the introduction of private providers into healthcare, and the effects of austerity on the population.
It is also apt that his last television appearance was on ‘Our NHS: A Hidden History’, a look back on the role of black and minority ethnic doctors on the NHS – another cause for which he was a true champion.
I would often disagree with him. Indeed, we have had a number of conversations in the past few months where he rebuked an editorial of mine on privatisation. I have always said that I have more time for someone who is passionate over someone who is polite – but he had the rare trait of being both.
The last time I saw him was at the 2019 GP Awards, on the anniversary of his beloved wife Anisha’s death. We spoke about cricket, his time in India and about Anisha. And, of course, about the NHS.
For me, Kailash was the conscience of general practice. When you got carried away with the latest overhaul, he would ground the debate. He will be a great loss to general practice.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.