Naheed Ahmed obituary

Other lives: Hospital doctor who worked in Swansea, London and Saudi Arabia before returning to the UK as a medical assessor

My mother, Naheed Ahmed, who has died aged 84, was a doctor who emigrated to the UK from India in the mid-1960s, after which she worked at various London hospitals as a locum doctor, rising to the position of accident and emergency consultant, first at the Whittington hospital and then the Royal Free, before spending more than a decade as a GP in Saudi Arabia. She returned to the UK in the mid-90s still keen to use her skills, and became a medical assessor for the Department of Health.

Naheed was born in Aurangabad in India, to Mohammed Abdul Shakur, a clerk, and Kareemunnissa (nee Begum), a teacher and schools inspector. Following the sudden death of her mother when she was nine years old, she was brought up by her maternal grandmother and, after attending the government girls’ high school in Aurangabad, in 1963 she graduated from Osmania University in Hyderabad as the university’s first qualified female surgeon. She then worked at Osmania general hospital as assistant professor of surgery for two years from 1964.

In 1966 Naheed moved to the UK to join her husband, Syed Manzoor Ahmed, whom she had married in that year and who was studying at Swansea University. Unable to secure an opening in the male-dominated field of surgery, she became a senior house officer in the accident and emergency department at Morriston hospital in Swansea, working long and unsocial hours; a particular challenge after her first child, my brother, Syed, was born in 1967, when she had to cope with a career and young baby.

After a period as a senior house officer at Singleton hospital in Swansea, specialising in orthopaedics, she moved to London in the 70s, working mostly as a locum before securing a permanent job as a consultant in the accident and emergency department at the Royal Northern hospital.

When that department closed in 1982, she struggled to find work for several years and then took the bold decision to work as a doctor at the King Fahad armed forces hospital in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Later, for a number of years, she was the GP for female staff at a large desalination plant in Al-Khobar in the east of the country, charming her patients and becoming a hugely popular figure.

Returning to the UK in 1995, Naheed’s final professional role was in the civil service as a medical assessor for the Department of Health. But around that time her health began to deteriorate after a hip fracture, and she was forced to take early retirement in 2003.

For the last 20 years of her life Naheed had limited mobility, and she was confined to her bed for the last four. However, her strong Muslim faith and eccentric sense of humour kept her going despite the many dark days of pain she suffered.

She is survived by her husband, her children, Syed and me, and by three grandchildren, Sana, Omar and Nuriya.

Tanveer Ahmed

The GuardianTramp

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