Dr Nayyar Naqvi OBE

I was born in Rampur in India. When I was 9, our family moved to Pakistan, eventually settling in Karachi.

I went to Dow Medical College. Our education was all in English. Our medical college was based on the British standard. All our teachers had gone to Britain to get their postgraduate qualifications. If you had an MRCP [Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians] or an FRCS [Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons], you were held in great esteem. So all of us wanted to come to Britain to get our postgraduate qualifications.

Those of us who came from India and Pakistan could only get jobs in district general hospitals, which were not as good or sophisticated as they are now. It was virtually impossible for us to get a job in a teaching hospital. And once we became registrars, that was the ceiling. You couldn’t get any higher than that.

The applications I sent were rejected just because of my name and where I got my degree. Most of my friends from Karachi who came here either went back to Pakistan or went to the United States.

My first job was in Wolverhampton and I had great difficulty in getting a job after that. Finally I managed to get a job at what is now Tameside Hospital in greater Manchester. After that I wrote directly to the consultant in Wigan and he called me for an interview. Any interview that I went to, bar one, I got the job. It was a question of getting to the interview stage. 

© Dr Nayyar Naqvi OBE

My wife – who is also a doctor – and I never intended to stay in Britain. But there were limited opportunities back in Karachi and I was eventually offered a consultant role here.

When I became a consultant physician, I joined with the proviso that I could set up cardiac services in Wigan. Cardiac patients were dying in the poor areas. It’s not fair. Why should teaching hospitals get the best services while people out here in the metropolitan borough of Wigan get second or third rate treatment?

They gave me one little room eight miles away from Wigan Infirmary in the old part of a Nurses Home.

I worked single handedly for 12 years to set up the cardiac service. I set up a heart fund to buy good equipment and hire staff. I feel very proud that we now have one of the best cardiac units in greater Manchester. 

The people of Wigan have acknowledged and supported my work; they’ve donated £3 million to the heart fund. Wigan has been extremely good to me and I’m very happy to have lived here in Britain for the past 52 years.