Arvind Rajasekaran – Consultant Respiratory Physician
INSPIRED to pursue a career in medicine after watching his grandfather suffer life-threatening asthma attacks – he is now one of the leading doctors in the country, caring for patients living with crippling respiratory conditions.
Dr Arvind Rajasekaran, a consultant at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, knew he wanted to work in medicine as a young child growing up in India. The 47-year-old recalled: “I was very close to my grandfather so I was able to see how asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) affected his daily life. There were some days that my grandfather could not walk or breathe properly. In those days, the understanding of the disease was very limited and the treatments available were not very effective. Because of that early life experience, I wanted to be a respiratory specialist.”
Arvind came to the UK to carry out his training and has been working for the NHS more than 20 years. He is the driving force for the Future Hospital Programme – a national project that aims to provide better respiratory care for patients in Sandwell and West Birmingham.
Thanks to his leadership, the project has made a tremendous difference to patients and has been shortlisted for the Health Service Journal’s Value Awards in the Acute Redesign Service category– a national award scheme recognising excellent healthcare services across the country.
“I have been fortunate to work in friendly teams and the patients I have treated have been wonderful and inspiring with the fortitude they demonstrate in their illness. One of the proudest moments in my career was when I first came to the Trust, I took responsibility for leading lung cancer services and helped the team to achieve one of the best performances in the whole region.”
His priority is to ensure better care for patients, so it’s no surprise to learn that he is also working with national organisations, such as the Royal College of Physicians in the Quality Improvement hub facility to help improve the quality of care across the country. He is also keen on education and training, focusing on training junior doctors and nurses.
“They are vital to the NHS and training them is a rewarding job, especially when you see how the training makes a difference to the care that patients receive,” he explained.
So where does he get the energy from to do so many things at the same time? He explained: “My main motivation comes from patients. When I see how my work helps patients get better, a simple thank you from them is a great boost to keep me going forward.”
His next challenge is to ensure the Future Hospital Programme is rolled out more widely. He explained: “The principle of this project is that we work closely with GPs and our respiratory community team to ensure patients are diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, preventing their condition from progressing. I’m pleased to see that the patients who took part in this project had positive experiences with the service, and they also praised how it gave them the option to receive treatment closer to home.
“Our vision is to roll out this integrated respiratory care more widely, ensuring patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time.”
In his spare time, Dr Arvind Rajasekaran enjoys cycling holidays across Europe with his family. Sometimes, they can travel up to 600 miles by bike. He also joined Velo Birmingham – an annual cycling event and completed 100 miles in a day, and represented the SWB’s Your Trust Charity. He said: “I love cycling as it’s so good to be in the open air. It allows me to explore unique spots, which I don’t think I would have been able to do if I travelled by car.”
So who inspires Dr Rajasekaran? “I take inspiration from many people that I work with, my colleagues who go the extraordinary lengths to provide the best care, such as Dr Jawad Khan, consultant cardiologist, who I respect for his sincerity and humility, and healthcare assistant Eva Glescner, who lights up any place with her smile and cheer. But the rock that I lean on would be my wife, who has a difficult job of balancing a busy professional life, supporting and providing for the family. She will always be my hero and inspiration.”