SINCE the start of the pandemic, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) council, reckons he has given well over a hundred interviews, dealing with “PPE, test and trace, the public health dimension, and BAME issues”.
He has regular meetings with the health secretary and other senior government and NHS figures dealing with the Covid crisis.
“When I first got involved in the BMA it was a very British organisation, steeped in history, founded in 1832, with a beautiful Lutyens building,” he says. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would end up as the head of the nation’s doctors.”
He now always makes sure he is thoroughly briefed. An early lesson he learnt as an Indian was to try and be better than the competition.
The story of how he got to the position he now occupies at the pinnacle of the British Medical Association is a remarkable and inspiring one – and testament to the Asian migrant spirit, especially as he had faced “nine rejections in a row and not even been called for an interview” when first applying for a GP training scheme.
“Getting through the door” was crossing the first barrier. And it was only by chance that he spoke at a BMA national conference in 1990 as a young doctor.
“I was petrified going up on stage to speak to 500 people,” he remembers. “There was a set of health reforms in this country. And I was very excited about some of those changes. I passionately said what I thought was wrong with the government policy – and there was a huge applause. The Evening Standard covered it and the next thing I knew people were calling on me to be involved in the BMA. And then I