Prakash Sinha was an oncoplastic reconstructive cancer surgeon and the Medical Director of Princess Royal University Hospital and South Sites at the King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. He died in service at the age of 58 in October 2020.
Mr Prakash Sinha
Prakash’s story starts in 1962, born into a large family with humble roots in a small place in the state of Bihar called Dhanbad, in India. He was the youngest of Sachidanand and Sabita Sinha’s three children. At a very young age, Prakash moved with his family to Mumbai, as his father’s sales job was relocated to the big city. A city where they knew nobody and lived in a small apartment in Borivali, a suburban district.
In Mumbai, Prakash gained a place in Don Bosco school, one of the most reputable schools in the city, where he became Head Boy.
Prakash excelled at school, where he also pursued his passions in the cricket and chess teams. His hard work and focus paid off and in 1979, at the age of 17, he pursued his dream of studying medicine at Grant Medical College, Mumbai – among the premier medical institutions in India and one of the oldest institutions teaching Western medicine in Asia, completing his MBBS in 1985. During his time at university, his mother would still send him food daily from their suburban home and Prakash would save his allowance during the week to return anything left to his mother to support with other household costs.
During his internship in Jawahar, he performed a number of surgeries and found his calling within medicine, going on to pursue and receive his Master’s in General Surgery from Grant Medical College.
From 1985 to 1993, Prakash progressed his medical education, growing his love of surgery whilst training at Mahatma Gandhi Hospital, Karuna Hospital and across the JJ Hospital Group. During this time, he met his loving wife Mahima, got married in 1989 and had two children – Aaditya and Prajakta.
After completing his training, during his time starting his private practicing surgery in Mumbai, he assessed a patient who didn’t have appendicitis, but his seniors tried to persuade him to perform an operation the patient didn’t require, Prakash refused. His seniors advised him he would not make any money or progress to support his family if he prioritised ethics and morals over the business.
Frustrated and saddened by these professional and social pressures, Prakash set his sights on working with the National Health Service in the UK – which felt aligned with his view of medicine, keeping people and not profits at the heart of medicine.
In March 1993, Prakash moved to the United Kingdom with just £200, leaving Mahima and his children in India due to the uncertainty and lack of funds. Initially he received help from friends who had just moved to the UK themselves. He managed to complete his GMC registration before beginning his NHS clinical career in June at the West Birmingham Hospital as a Senior House Officer in Accident and Emergency. A short time later, he moved to the south-east of England, joining the Surgical Team at the Medway Maritime Hospital, Kent as a Senior House Officer in Surgery under the tutelage of Mr Beeby and Mr Palmer. It was only when he moved to Medway that he was able to reunite and bring his wife and children to the UK.
Prakash pursued his love of surgery through his Specialist Registrar training, attaining FRCS in November 1994 and going on to develop skills in surgical pathology, endoscopic and laparoscopic work. Prakash further extended both his clinical skillset and research practice completing an MD, an Oncoplastic Fellowship and publishing many research papers in peer-reviewed journals.
Training was difficult in England, as Prakash was required to change hospitals every year, with extensive travelling and long on-calls. Just before taking up a consultant post, he was separated from his family yet again for a year, as he undertook his oncoplastic fellowship in the North of England – oncoplastic surgery at the time was a relatively new and exciting sub-speciality. During this time, his family was living in the South of England, meaning that Prakash had to commute across the country every weekend to ensure he spent enough time with the family.
Prakash became a distinguished Breast Cancer specialist and Consultant Surgeon in 2002, saving countless lives, focusing on surgery and oncoplastic reconstruction.
His NHS practice was at Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington, Kent, where he headed the Breast Unit for many years, treating and supporting the recovery of thousands of patients. He was held in high regard among colleagues and in community owing to his calm, expert and warm manner.
He became the Medical Director at the Princess Royal University Hospital in 2018 – making him one of the very few Medical Directors of Indian origin practising in the UK. In the same year, he was also honoured with an NHS Leadership Academy Award.
Prakash was a committed father and loving husband, supporting his children through their education and inspiring his son Aaditya to follow in his footsteps as a Surgeon and his daughter Prajakta to study Artificial Intelligence and an MBA.
Prakash had a deep altruistic outlook on life and never said 'No' to those who needed his help.
He became an important part of the community, raising funds for many local projects. He was also asked on multiple occasions to speak at the House of Commons at events focusing on cancer care support.
His philanthropy is one of his greatest legacies and he raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for cancer patients and for new equipment to improve the care of breast cancer patients – most recently towards new endoscopy unit at the Princess Royal University Hospital. In 2016 he received the Mahatma Gandhi Pravashi Samman from the NRI Welfare Society of India, honouring his philanthropic achievements, which was awarded at the House of Lords.
Prakash never stopped supporting communities in India. In 2016, he co-founded a charity in India: Grant Medical Charities ‘79’, and was its prime donor. The charity donated paediatric ventilators to the Sir D.M. Petit Hospital in Maharashtra and most recently has been providing PPE to JJ Hospital in Mumbai during the Covid-19 pandemic. Recently, the charity raised funds for a new ambulance, which has now been donated in memory of Prakash.
In the UK, he was an important member of The Chartwell Cancer Trust and helped raise funds for that charity throughout his career, including through sponsored climbs of Kilimanjaro and Annapurna. He was an avid climber, ascending to Mount Everest base camp and learning to ski at the age of 50.
After surviving an acute Covid infection in March 2020, which he had contracted at the hospital while at work, Prakash began a new project to ensure the well-being of NHS staff during the pandemic. Sadly, Prakash died of an unexpected heart attack in October 2020 that is thought to be a delayed complication of his earlier Covid-19 infection.
In honour of this man who dedicated his life to serving his community and furthering the NHS, his family and friends are committed to completing this vision on his behalf and in his legacy.