‘Warm and kind’ retired Derbyshire GP dies from COVID-19

Retired Derbyshire GP Dr Om Prakash Chawla, who was known for his warmth and kindness, has died from COVID-19.

Dr Om Prakash Chawla (Photo: Dr Sudeep Chawla)
Dr Om Prakash Chawla (Photo: Dr Sudeep Chawla)

Dr Chawla, who retired in 2018 after working at Wingerworth Medical Centre in Chesterfield for the past 25 years, passed away on 2 January after being diagnosed with coronavirus last year.

His family has described him as ‘extremely driven and passionate’ about his profession - adding that he always had the time to help others.

Colleagues at Wingerworth Medical Centre have launched a fundraising campaign in his memory and hope to raise over £6,500 for a local hospice.

Driven professional

Dr Chawla began working for the NHS as a surgeon after moving from Lucknow, India, but made the transition to general practice halfway through his career.

With his wife, Dr Vimla Chawla, he founded the Wingerworth practice - growing its patient list from scratch to over 6,200 patients today.

He was instrumental in setting up a modern, purpose built medical center in 2017 - moving the practice from its original site at a converted bungalow.

Dr Sudeep Chawla, the son of Dr Chawla and GP partner at Wingerworth Medical Centre, paid tribute to his father. He said: ‘Dad was extremely driven and passionate about his profession, always finding the time to help others.

Team player

‘He had spent time with all staff, from registrars to the admin team, to teach and train them. He thrived in helping others as much as he could and his passion for surgery was never lost - performing and teaching minor surgery at the practice over 25 years.

‘Most of all he was a most loving father and grandfather. Devoted to his family with encouragement and support for our success… We hope that his legacy remains within the heart of the community through this achievement.’

A statement posted on the surgery's Facebook pages from former colleagues of Dr Chawla said: 'He was loved by us all for his warmth and kindness and will be greatly missed.’

Following his death, family members, friends and surgery staff have raised £5,700 for Ashgate Hospicecare by walking and running the same amount of miles in March.

The team, led by GP Dr Tara George who also works at Wingerworth surgery, surpassed its initial target of 4,444 miles - the distance between the Chesterfield practice and Lucknow in India - and have set a new target of 6,603 miles.

BAME GP deaths

GPonline understands that at least 15 practising GPs have died from coronavirus since the start of the pandemic last March.

Close to 90% of those GPs have been from Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, despite BAME GPs making up 31% of the workforce according to NHS Digital figures.

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpual told GPonline earlier this week that delayed risk assessments may have contributed to disproportionate deaths among doctors from BAME backgrounds during the pandemic.

A tribute to the GPs who have died from COVID-19 can be found here.

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