Doctor returns from India amid lock-down restrictions

by Tim Tonkin

A doctor who returned to the UK after spending weeks stranded in India is overjoyed to be back at work in the NHS.

Location: International
Published: Thursday 16 April 2020

Suffolk trust consultant in acute medicine Sushil Misra has spoken of his relief at being back in the UK, and has expressed his thanks to all those who supported him during his struggle to board a flight home.

After arriving in the UK last weekend, and following a day’s rest on bank holiday Monday, Dr Misra was back to work at the West Suffolk Hospital on 14 April.

He said: ‘A lot has happened here at the hospital, a lot of rota and policy changes, and new protocols. It felt great [to be back] it felt like being home and I want to again say thanks for everything the BMA did for me.’

Dr Misra (pictured above) had journeyed to India early last month to visit his parents and had been due to return on 29 March. Owing to a national lock-down in India, and restrictions on international travel resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, his flight was cancelled.

Must do more

In response to Dr Misra’s plight, BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul called on the Government to do more to prioritise doctors and healthcare professionals stranded overseas in getting back to the UK and the NHS.

Eager to be reunited with his wife and daughter in the UK, and to return to his job, he spent the next fortnight doing everything he could to get back to the UK.

After struggling to get information from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – and with so many British nationals stuck in India unable to get home – Dr Misra contacted the BMA for advice and support.

He was eventually able to obtain a seat on a chartered flight from Delhi to Heathrow on 12 April.

‘They [British High Commission and Indian Government] sent a vehicle to pick me up and take me to the airport. On the way you could see everything was locked down and only vehicles with special permission were allowed on the road.

‘It was about five hours before the plane arrived – all the shops in the airport were closed, but fortunately we were provided with water before entering the terminal.’

Precautionary measures

Dr Misra, who along with his fellow passengers had to wear a facemask for the duration of the eight-and-a-half-hour flight back to the UK, said he took every precaution possible to protect himself from the virus onboard the crowded aircraft.

He said: ‘I had taken my sanitising wipes with me and cleaned the seat before sitting and did not use the bathroom once during the flight.’

After arriving at Heathrow, he was able to get to London thanks to a taxi which had been arranged for him by a friend, where he was able to briefly see his daughter, herself a junior doctor, en route before returning home to his wife in Suffolk.

He said: ‘My wife was waiting at the front door, but I went straight to the back garden where all my suitcases, clothes and shoes were sanitised, and I got changed. Only then was I admitted into the house.'

‘People are very happy I’m back and some of my colleagues joked asking whether I had swum home,’ he joked.

‘I am just very pleased to be home.’