My Full Interview with NHS England for South Asian Heritage Month 2022

I was delighted to be featured with my dad on NHS England social media for South Asian Heritage month, via live on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. They were particularly interested in multiple generations within families who have worked in the NHS.

NHSE: What do you love about your role?

Me: I am a Consultant Allied Health Professional in Neuromuscular Diseases, a relatively new role in the AHP professions and NHS. I am a physiotherapist and also a Clinical Academic/health researcher. Research is one of the four pillars of consultant practice and I have been able to support my research activity, though acquiring research grants, that are focused on the patients I treat. I lead the Neuromuscular Rehabilitation Research Group (@cnmdrehab on Twitter) and our research aims to support people with live well with muscle wasting conditions. The specialist role within the neuromuscular service allows me to have my own Consultant clinics and work more autonomously at an advance level of practice. It has also allowed me to develop a national and international profile as an expert in the physical management of neuromuscular diseases, which is exciting and immensely rewarding.

What inspired you to work in the NHS?

My father and uncle both came to the UK from Mauritius in the 1960s to study nursing, and both worked in the NHS for 40+ years. I saw dad’s hard work, commitment to study and his leadership made a difference. We moved up and down the country and spent a lot of time living in hospital accommodation on NHS sites. He progressed from being a nurse manager to a business manager of an acute trust and then was a commissioner for primary care trust near the end of his career

NHSE: Advice you would give to someone considering a career in the NHS

Me: No two days are the same and though it can be very busy, but I am always inspired and humbled by the people I see in my clinics. The science of what we do is fascinating and engages me intellectually all of the time. The reward can be very enriching personally when you feel like you have made a difference to a person’s life. Be prepared to graft, though, I never feel like I have enough hours in the day!

NHSE: What does South Asian Heritage Month mean to you?

Me: Recognising the diversity of experiences of people of South Asian Heritage is so important. I am mixed heritage, but appear South Asian so have naturally identified with my Mauritian family and community, though my Irish family add another spark! I have recently been finding out more about how my great grandparents journeyed from Calcutta to Mauritius as indentured labourers and small planters. I previously had no idea how brutal indentureship was and what my ancestors endured at the hands of the British. As a British Asian, that has been hard to process and come to terms with. The South Asian Heritage Month allows us to explore the stories and histories that led to us journeying across the globe, and acknowledge the impact of colonialism on us all.

NHSE: What are your career highlights?

Me: Getting my PhD in 2008 was a pivotal moment for me, as I never knew physiotherapists could do this. Later I was awarded a National Institute for Health Research, Post-Doctoral Fellowship which allowed me to combine my research with clinical practice. For me, the blend of the two is the bedrock of my work and I hope will enable it to be impactful in my field.

NHSE: What do you enjoy about working in the NHS?

Me: I have already mentioned the inspiration I get from the people who attend my clinics, but I also work in an incredibly supportive multi-disciplinary team, with huge respect for all professions, experience and contributions. The people make the NHS special and I have been in awe of the dedication, resilience, flexibility and innovative thinking of my colleagues over the last two years.

NHSE: Any challenges you’ve had to face (for example working during the pandemic) and how you overcame them.

Me: Physiotherapy is a very hands-on profession so when the pandemic hit, my team jumped very quickly onto video conferencing platforms to allow remote appointments where we can observe and demonstrate. Although we can now do face to face appointments again, a proportion of our work is still by video as many of our patients live all around the UK, saving a long travel. I think it has made us more responsive to the preferences of our patients, and also allow us to be more nimble if anything urgent crops up. We have had to adapt our communication and assess risk, but more guidance has been developed and I had the pleasure to work with a research team from Oxford University researching video interactions for physiotherapy sessions. Opportunities can arise from the greatest challenges.

Published by Dr Gita Ramdharry

I am a clinical academic physiotherapist working in the NHS as a Consultant Allied Health Professional in Neuromuscular Diseases.

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