Rajan Madhok

                                                                         The journey of an overseas doctor in the NHS

The immigrant


Leaving for the distant shores

dream come true

going to Britain

new start, new life

excited and daunted

Will I make it

Will it be worthwhile

Will I miss folk back home

Will they miss me

Fast forward four decades

neither Indian nor British

pulled by both

resentful of both

India of youth gone

Britain has changed too

Or is it me

unable to adapt

rootless and restless

the first generation immigrant



Photograph of Rajan as a young doctor

Professor Rajan Madhok was born in Delhi, India in 1954. In a set of three wide-ranging interviews for the NHS at 70 project he talks about how being an overseas doctor shaped his journey since his arrival in the UK in 1980 after qualifying in India, to working as a public health doctor and subsequently taking on leadership roles. He reflects on the importance of his background: his parents were refugees (from Pakistan to India), and he has the experience of being an immigrant who married within the UK and has children with mixed heritages. He considers these factors have given him the opportunity to have a broader and more liberal outlook on life alongside the persistent challenges of feeling like an outsider both professionally and culturally in the UK. This is the focus of reflection in his poem The immigrant. In the interviews he speaks candidly, and in his words ‘irreverently at times’ when sharing his experiences. ‘I stood on the shoulders of giants’, he said, ‘and my way of thanking them is to share my learning with the next generation’.


Listen to Rajan's three oral history interviews below:

Follow the links to the archive, to listen to Rajan's first, second and third interview with a written summary accompanying each one. 

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Listen to Rajan reflecting on the pandemic and his message to future generations.


You can take a man out of the NHS, but not the NHS out the man. This may be the best way to sum up Rajan, as he continues in retirement to support the NHS in various ways: interviewing for the NHS at 70 project; compiling a poetry anthology with friends to document experiences of lockdown; and writing a daily journal to record his Covid-19 experiences and reflect on these in the context of his longer life as an immigrant and retired doctor.

Image of Rajan smiling, donated to accompany his interview

Rajan refers to the following resources in his oral history interviews and has also shared the poetry anthology he produced to mark the 40th anniversary of his arrival in the UK, as well as a reflective anthology, produced one year into the pandemic. Click on each of the links to access the resources.


  1. Personal reflections on the NHS Vol 1 is the compendium of his reflective writings over 25 years in the NHS

  2.  Personal reflections on the NHS Vol 2 is the compilation of the daily blogs he posted from his Jarrow March

  3.  Personal reflections on the NHS Vol 3 is his assessment of the NHS before the interview

  4.  A video interview recorded in 1995, during his first Public Health Director job 

  5.  The poetry anthology of Musings on Life which he produced to mark the 40th anniversary of his arrival in the UK 

  6. Homage to those who Rajan feels were his teachers, since his arrival in the UK 

  7.  Poetry anthology written during the first lockdown in 2020

  8.  An anthology reflecting on the first year of the Covid pandemic


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