Passage to India was an inspiring experience for Stobhill doctor

Dr Frank Dunn
Dr Frank Dunn

I am most fortunate to be President of the Royal College of Physicians of Glasgow.

Extended meetings, without a clear way forward, can be challenging, especially at the conclusion when I feel like the rusted Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. However the vast majority of my activities are stimulating, enjoyable and memorable.

I have just returned from a two week trip to Oman and India. The Royal College co-hosted a travel medicine meeting with The Department of Health in Muscat. I also visited a new impressive heart hospital with one of our previous trainees, who is now a distinguished cardiologist there.

Our College has a long history of collaboration with Oman. Everyone we met was kindness personified and the country has a lovely atmosphere. We visited two cities in India. Bangalore in the south, which is regarded as the IT capital of India, and indeed one of the major IT cities in the world.

The hospitals in India are run in a number of ways. Some are Government run, others through different religious organisations and others still through wealthy philanthropists or the private sector.

What struck me was that despite the challenges of a massive population, these organisations provide high quality care, within a vibrant environment and without disgruntlement.

In one hospital funded through philanthropy, the progress since we lasted visited in 2013 has been dramatic, and would do credit to any hospital in the UK.

There remains a considerable respect for the NHS and in particular the training programmes. The Royal College is contributing through delivery of examinations and facilitating training opportunities for Indian Doctors. I met a young consultant who had trained in surgery at Stobhill and remembered that one of the cardiologists there was a chap called Dunn!

Because our college represents surgeons as well as physicians, I was asked to address Bangalore’s major surgical society – an interesting experience to say the least. They were most tolerant and we had some interesting dialogue.

Our visit to Delhi was equally interesting. The College delivered a symposium to the Indian Physicians’ Association.

There were 10,000 attendees and the convention consisted of a series of marquees all round a large grassy area. It was very much a family affair, with fun zones for children and for adults also!

There was also a daytime karaoke area. I resisted the temptation - a good decision as there was some gifted singers in evidence.

The meeting itself was of good quality. The population of India is younger than in the UK, but they have an appreciation of the need going forward to plan for care of the frail elderly in the years to come.

Diabetes and hypertension are major health challenges, as indeed are cancer and heart disease. The scale of the challenges given the population of over 1.2 billion, is hard to imagine.

The major social event was a Bollywood style outdoor extravaganza, with a huge stage and some very talented singers and dancers. There did not appear to be any particular difficulty in catering for several thousand people. Indeed it was a night to remember.

The traffic in India remains mesmerising. Motor cycle helmets are frequently not in evidence, and several people can be accommodated on the one motorcycle. Everyone constantly sounds their horn and weaves in and out of lanes with great skills. I sampled the open air tuk tuk taxis a couple of times without incident.

Interestingly, I was the only person in India who knew or cared that Clyde lost a last minute goal to East Fife.