‘Being part of team Covid made me feel ten years younger’.


A Trust doctor has shared her experience of role change during the pandemic

Kantha Niranjan, clinical lead for geriatrics at King George Hospital, run by Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, has shared her experience of how her role changed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 63-year-old said: “My role changed completely and it was a challenging time. I became a Covid physician. What was really good was the amazing teamwork and how it improved relationships across all specialities. Relationships have been forged that weren’t there before and they will continue, we’ve set up WhatsApp groups and we continue to give each other advice on our patients.

“It was also interesting to have an opportunity to contribute to a pandemic as I may not get another chance. And being part of the Covid team, the camaraderie and enthusiasm with my colleagues made me feel I was ten years younger!”

Kantha, who first joined the Trust for a year in 1994, before returning as a consultant in 1998, is now back in her original role and is passionate about caring for older patients.

She added: “I love looking after elderly patients, and still enjoy being very hands on. I like helping them to get their independence back.

“In elderly care, some patients don’t recover, so it’s about making them comfortable and relieving their suffering. I support them and their families and am passionate about good end of life care.”

Originally from Sri Lanka, Kantha started her career working at the Batticaloa Hospital in the district where she grew up. While she moved to the UK with husband Raj, a GP, in 1986, she still supports disadvantaged people from Batticaloa through charity work.

She said: “Following the tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2004, I didn’t know if my parents were alive for 24 hours. They survived, however, I did lose some relatives.

“The eastern district of Sri Lanka where I’m from was heavily affected and two weeks after the tsunami I went with out with a team to hold medical clinics to help people. I remain involved in supporting people in that area; I regularly return to the Batticaloa district to run cataract camps, for removing cataracts and preventing blindness for patients who do not benefit from the same healthcare as we have in the UK, and hold dengue fever prevention camps. I’m also the chair of the Friends of Batticaloa Hospital (a UK registered charity).”

Kantha, of Chigwell, also became the first female president of the Medical Institute of Tamils, which was founded by Tamil doctors in the UK, in 2010, and remains a trustee of the charity.

It was due to her being from a minority Tamil group that meant after civil war broke out in Sri Lanka before she moved to the UK; she was unable to return home for 30 years, until after it ended in 2013.

Read Kantha’s full In Conversation With interview.

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