Unsung hero of the NHS

Picture Cate Earnshaw Dudley

There are many unsung heroes of our National Health Service, both British and otherwise, who devote or have devoted their lives to medicine and saving lives. Do we take them for granted, especially those who come from overseas? After all that clapping with our neighbours, have we forgotten? East Midlands Bylines would like to hear about them, regardless of whether they are still working, have retired or have passed away. 

Here is our first story. It’s about an immigrant who largely went unnoticed outside of his work and social group. He died before he could enjoy his retirement. We are concerned that there may be fewer people like him in the UK in future, given the current Home Office hostility. It’s written by David Childs.

Soran Al Chawishly was born (1951) into a prominent Kurdish family in Iraq. After qualifying at the Baghdad Medical College in 1973, he worked and took further training in other Bagdad hospitals before deciding to specialise in Ear Nose & Throat surgery at Yarmouk Hospital, after which he decided to come to London. He was a serious post-graduate student and was one of 20 candidates out of 41 who passed the exam set by the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1986 for the diploma in Laryngology and Otology. He was also elected a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

Although he admired many aspects of British life and culture, Soran did not forget his roots and keenly followed events in Kurdistan, Iraq, and indeed in other parts of the Middle East. He took time on his vacations to visit Erbil, his hometown,and to contribute to the development of medical studies in Kurdistan. 

Despite having a keen interest in his work, Soran had a lighter side too. He had a great interest in automobiles. He loved his Jaguar.  Once, on holiday in Italy when the ladies in the group were window shopping, he suddenly decided to go into a small shop. To everyone’s surprise, he was found eagerly examining model cars. “I must have some of them”, he explained. “I’ve got Fiat, Ford, Volkswagen, all of them, but those are East European – Lada, Skoda, Trabant… I must have the lot.” His companions looked rather worried. “Where would they go?” He already had a display cabinet full of models.

Soran worked at the Royal Free Hospital for several years during which time he trained junior doctors many of whom became consultants all over the UK, including the East Midlands.

In addition to the clinical side of his career, Soran was active in the British Medical Association and with the knowledge gained he was able to advise many of his colleagues on contracts, salaries and pensions.  

After practising in several hospitals over decades, Soran was looking forward to retirement in 2021. Sadly, this charming, educated and interesting personality died of cancer all too soon: 22 July 2020, aged 69. 

Soran Al Chawishly