The idea for a centre of excellence in Neurosciences like NNCarose from a mixture of personal failure, altruism and to some extent on personal experience with the status of Neurosurgery in my part of the country. Having qualified from Calcutta in 1961, the easiest route for higher surgical training left to me was to go to England as many of us do even today. However, when I was ready to return to India there was no job available to me. So, I stayed in Newcastle as a consultant till today for the last forty-six years. During the course of training of many young neurosurgeons in Newcastle from various parts of India, I had an opportunity to visit all its major centres for conferences, workshops and seminars. While visiting Vellore, Chennai, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Delhi and many other cities, I was struck to see their neurosurgical wards full with patients from Calcutta and other parts of the North East of India.
Calcutta was once the Jewel in the Crown of Indian Medical Scene and people from all over India particularly from the North East used to depend on Calcutta for their medical needs and there was no lack of talents or skills in Calcutta, but somehow the public felt more confident in travelling to faraway places for their brain or spine operations. This neurosurgical exodus from my own city sparked a desire to get myself involved.
Having worked all my life in England in National Health Service my streak of altruism took the better of me. However, how little did I understand the difficulty to get involved in the socio-political atmosphere in Calcutta as it was the case in the early 1980s.
After many unsuccessful attempts between 1981 to 1994 leading only to frustration and depression, I decided to go alone with the encouragement of my wife just to save myself from further depression with more determination. But I felt I needed some bright young neurosurgeons with roots in Calcutta who would appreciate my objective and provide support.
While attending a conference in San Diego in 1995, I introduced myself to two such neurosurgeons with appropriate surnames who were the rising stars in the world of neurosurgery. This was the beginning of my fortunate association with Prof.Chandranath Sen from New York and Prof.AbhijitGuha from Toronto. They appreciated the idea but were apprehensive as to how they could help considering the early stages of their career and agreed to come to Newcastle for a brief holiday in 1996. During a picnic in Bamburgh Castle near Newcastle the concept of NNC was born and Abhijit prepared the Logo. Both Chandranath and Abhijit agreed to support NNC with their time, skill and international contacts while the financial resources would be generated in England. It was further decided that a collaboration with a progressive minded private hospital would be realistic to start NNC.
While studying the existing private hospitals in Calcutta in 1996, we came to know about the Peerless Hospital and B.K.Roy Research Institute from Dr. Tapas Kumar Banerjee, a talented new addition to Calcutta Neurology who spend some time in Newcastle. Shri S.K. Roy, the head of Peerless Group readily agreed to meet Chandranath, Abhijit and myself, as a true visionary and appreciated our objectives, enthusiasm and determination. He offered us his full cooperation to work together to establish a centre of excellence in neurosciences. With his blessing the MOU between the Neurosciences Foundation, Bengal (a local philanthropic and registered society which is the vehicle for our voluntary activities) and the Peerless Hospital and B. K. Roy Research Centre was signed. This is the story of how NNC as a Joint Venture Project was born.
Then started the flurry of activities to set up NNC. The Peerless Hospital provided space for Neuro ITU, OT, OPD and a Ward totally dedicated to NNC. It also provided whatever neurological and neurosurgical facilities it had, at its disposal. Neurosciences Foundation, Bengal through its financial support from UK brought nurses and specialists from there to set up NNC. Highly sophisticated microscopes, micro-instruments, monitors, ventilators, anaesthetic machines, Digital Substraction Angiography were brought in. Fellowship training in Neuroradiology for a young radiologist was also organised.
The inauguration of NNC on the 15th December 1997 was a mixture of great personal emotion and excitement. In addition to the constant support of Peerless Hospital and our own staff there were three great men who were instrumental in providing fuel to the fire of our imagination. These were Swami LokeswaranadajiMaharaj of the Rama Krishna Mission Institute of Culture, Prof. B.Ramamurthi the doyen of Indian Neurosurgery and Prof. P.N. Tandon, a great Neuroscientist who recently has been awarded Padma Bibhusan and with their blessing, we felt we could conquer the world. No wonder starting from the Governor, Ministers of the Govt. of West Bengal, the hon’ble Mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation, our national and international friends were all there at the inauguration ceremony.