SAS doctor mentor Awani Choudhary dies

by Tim Tonkin

The BMA has paid tribute to Awani Kumar Choudhary, who made a huge contribution to the lives of staff, associate specialists and specialty doctors.

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 18 May 2022
Awani Kumar Choudhary

Dr Choudhary (pictured above), who died last month aged 72, was the co-founder and inaugural deputy chair of the BMA SAS doctors committee.

Friends and colleagues have spoken of their fondness, respect and gratitude to Dr Choudhary, who is credited as a great source of support and inspiration to his peers.

Shervin Vaziri, who co-chaired the BMA Trent SAS committee alongside Dr Choudhary, described his friend and colleague as ‘a good man’ who was ‘always happy to help those who did not have a voice’, and credited him as the reason he himself was part of the association.

Dr Vaziri, who first met Dr Choudhary in 1998 after Dr Vaziri had arrived in the UK from Iran, said that he would never forget the kindness and support his fellow SAS doctor had shown him, adding that such behaviour had been typical of Dr Choudhary.

Shadow walker

He said: ‘The amount of help and support he gave was incredible. He was very kind and showed me the ropes at the time when shadowing was not a thing. He walked me through all of it: being on call and the bleep system. The amount of mentorship from him was incredible.

‘[He was] very passionate about the BMA and union work. I wouldn’t be in the BMA if not for him.’

Born in India and qualifying as a doctor in 1977, Dr Choudhary first came to the UK in 1979 undergoing and completing further medical training in Edinburgh, before later becoming an associate specialist in orthopaedics specialising in trauma management and having a particular focus on spinal surgery.

He worked for many years at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and took a keen interest in mentoring young and newly qualified doctors and also worked at his trust as an appraiser.

Having had a strong interest in medico politics, Dr Choudhary joined the BMA and initially served on the association’s consultants committee as a non-consultant career grade representative.

Branch of practice champion

Believing that SAS doctors needed to be better represented within the association, in 2002 Dr Choudhary helped to co-found the SASC giving himself and thousands of his colleagues their own independent committee for the very first time in BMA history.

As a lead negotiator during the development of new SAS contracts in the early 2000s, it was undertaking this work that led to Dr Choudhary being at BMA House during the terror attacks on London on 7 July, 2005.

Among one of the first responders on the scene, Dr Choudhary and other BMA colleagues worked tirelessly to provide emergency treatment and care to victims of the bus explosion at Tavistock Square.

After being awarded a BMA fellowship in 2018, Dr Choudhary trained as a mediator for the Civil Mediation Council but was unfortunately unable to pursue this role due to the impact of the pandemic.

After being diagnosed with gastric cancer in 2020, Dr Choudhary still sought to work on a limited basis, with his colleague at Bassetlaw hospital Dr Vaziri noting that he attended clinic once a week while undergoing chemotherapy, when his health allowed.

Chess and opera

Outside of the BMA and his clinical career, Dr Choudhary was active in enhancing and developing his profession founding and serving as the first president of the British Orthopaedic Specialists Society, affiliated to the British Orthopaedic Association, and also being a member of the SAS committees for the Royal College of Surgeons of both England and Edinburgh.

Married to his wife Fiona for 18 years, in his personal life he enjoyed chess, travelling and attending the theatre, ballet and opera.

Dr Choudhary passed away on 28 April. His funeral service was held on 16 May.