Parveen Kumar honoured for outstanding contribution to health

Parveen Kumar has been honoured for her Outstanding Contribution to Health at The BMJ Awards 2019

Parveen Kumar, professor of medicine and education at Barts and the London School of Medicine is best known as  co-author of the textbook Clinical Medicine, used for decades by medical students and doctors worldwide.

The BMJ Awards are the UK’s top medical awards programme, recognising and celebrating amazing healthcare teams making a very real difference to patients, every single day, in all sorts of ways. The awards, held in association with medical insurer MDDUS, took place at the Park Plaza Westminster Hotel earlier this week.

Kumar was born in Lahore which, at that time, was in India. During the chaos and violence of partition, the family was forced to flee to China, but not long after, Communist forces forced them to return to India. They moved to England when she was 13.

Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, chair of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, said Kumar is “an exceptional clinician with a broad range of knowledge and understanding of all aspects of general internal medicine. Plus, she has made significant advances with her gastroenterological research – especially into coeliac disease.

“But she is so much more! She is a devoted mother and grandmother. She still travels the world teaching and examining, and she remains one of the most generous people I know.”

In addition to a full commitment to clinical practice and teaching, Kumar has been president of the BMA and the Royal Society of Medicine, and academic vice-president of the Royal College of Physicians. She was chair of the former UK Medicines Commission and a founding non-executive director of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

A champion of women, Kumar also became president of the Medical Women’s Federation in 2016 and organised the seminal photographic exhibition Women in Medicine: a celebration.

Even though being a woman has never held her back, she thinks there is still work to do to get more women to the top. “We are still losing a lot of women between senior registrar and consultant level,” she says.

At 76 years old, Kumar is still a whirlwind of activity and fizzes with energy. She is currently chair of the British Medical Association’s Board of Science, President of the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund and is a trustee of the BMA’s Foundation for Medical Research.

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