Remembering Dr Medhat Atalla

27 April 2020

It was with great sadness that the BGS community learned of the death of Dr Medhat Atalla on 22 April, following treatment for COVID-19. Dr Atalla was a hugely popular and respected consultant geriatrician practising at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. He had been a member of the BGS since 2006.

In honour of Dr Atalla, his colleagues at Doncaster Royal Infirmary have written the following statement.

A Tribute to Dr Medhat Atalla

Dr Medhat Atalla was born 1958 in Egypt. His father was Mr Soby Atalla who was a Vice Minister in the Department of Electric Ministry in Egypt and he was the eldest of three siblings. He obtained his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery Degree from the prestigious Ain Shams University in 1981. He practised medicine across three continents; Africa, Asia and Europe. Dr Atalla had been a Consultant Physician and Geriatrician at Doncaster Royal Infirmary since 2011. He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh). He was also an examiner for MRCP (UK) PACES examinations and enjoyed the role immensely.

Dr Atalla was greatly respected and loved by all who knew him. Dr Andrew Oates (Consultant Geriatrician & Clinical Director) had known Medhat since he was a Specialist Registrar in Geriatric Medicine. He remembers him as an extremely hardworking colleague who was very enthusiastic about his work and a quick learner. Dr Oates said ‘he was a truly wonderful person to have in the department’.

Nursing staff fondly remember his personal touch. He addressed everyone he worked with by their name. He was very meticulous; he reminded the staff to record lying and standing blood pressures and would often chase staff with the observations sheet in hand to ensure it was competed which always made them laugh. Staff nurses always kept at least one tendon hammer hidden on the ward at all times available for his use. They say he had a great ability to make everyone comfortable, and his smile would light up the room. He always provided the best care for his patients, whilst taking care of the staff. He was their trusted friend and they knew it. His secretaries remember him as a selfless and devoted gentleman.

Dr Rekha Ramanath wrote ‘To me he was a very special friend and a fantastic colleague to work with. We worked together for the last 10 years in perfect harmony. He was a gentleman, and addressed me and all his colleagues by our surname. He grinned cheekily every time I reminded him to call me Rekha rather than Dr Ramanath. He worked until he developed symptoms of COVID 19. He came to me when he needed assistance and considered me part of his close-knit family. I was with him holding his hand whilst he took his last breath. Our family from Egypt was with us on Facetime.’

Dr Barradell (Consultant Geriatrician) remembers his constant willingness to bend over backwards to help his colleagues. She says he held his ward teams in very high regard and appeared to view them as family. Dr Looi was touched by his great devotion towards the care and wellbeing of his patients. Staff always knew they could call upon him for advice and support, even in the middle of the night.

Dr Oates adds that Medhat always remained calm under what were, at times, very trying circumstances for him. He had a series of difficulties along the way which might have destroyed a less robust individual but he managed to bounce back and always seemed to have a smile on his face. He repaid the trust that Doncaster Infirmary placed in him with intense loyalty.

Dr Atalla deteriorated rapidly after developing symptoms of COVID-19. He was cared for by nurses and doctors who had worked by his side. He died peacefully on 22 April 2020.

He will be sadly missed, forever honoured and remembered by all of us.

The President of the British Geriatrics Society, Professor Tash Masud, said:

We were fortunate to have someone of Dr Atalla’s compassion and commitment providing such expert care for older patients. The lovely tributes paid by his colleagues clearly demonstrate the regard in which he was held. News of his death has been incredibly sad for his colleagues, patients and the geriatric medicine community across the country. During a career spanning many years and different countries, he demonstrated great commitment to improving healthcare for older people, and changed countless lives for the better. On behalf of the British Geriatrics Society, I send sincere condolences to his sister, brother and extended family in Egypt, and to all who knew him.”