Dr Tariq Mahmood's Story for NHS 75

As the NHS reaches a momentous milestone of 75 years, this is an occasion to celebrate the dedicated staff and volunteers who have shaped the NHS into what it is today. 

In the lead up to the NHS’s birthday on 5 July, LYPFT staff are telling their stories of inspiration and dedication that led them to join the NHS and what motivates them to continue their important work. 

We caught up with Dr Tariq Mahmood, a Consultant Psychiatrist in Adult Mental Health based in the Acute Inpatients Service at the Becklin Centre.

Dr Mahmood shares his NHS 75 story here.

Tell us a little more about yourself Dr Mahmood…

In 2021 I celebrated 50 years of service in healthcare with my colleagues at the Becklin Centre. I’ve worked for 25 years in the NHS and am almost the same age as the NHS, as I was born in 1949 a year after its launch.

I started my medical career in Pakistan where I trained and served as an army doctor. I was the medical officer for an artillery regiment and worked in the field for about two years providing emergency care. I retired from the army in 1980 and decided to have a break – ending up playing a lot of golf for 6 months!

In 1974 I decided to train in mental health. I have worked as a Consultant Psychiatrist for around 40 years now. I specialise in Bipolar Disorder and have run a specialist clinic at LYPFT for the past 10 years.

What, or who, inspired you to work in your profession and the NHS in the first place and what keeps you getting out of bed in the morning?

I believe that psychiatry is the closest to my family tradition of studying philosophy and poetry but I also literally owe my life to the NHS after my heart surgery 20 years ago.

I have no regrets about my choice of career – I have enjoyed both my clinical and research work which has included contributions to the understanding of psychosis risk in South Asian communities.

I am proud to have also contributed to books on psychiatry (Mood, Migraine and Serotonin (author 2010), Trends in Bipolar Disorders Research (contributor 2004), Handbook of Psychiatry for Medical Officers (editor 1990), The Scientific Basis of Psychiatry (contributor 1983).

I feel to be able to continue to serve in the NHS is truly an honour. It feels good to be able to share my experience in this way – something people will remember.

Can you share any particular career highlights?

I owe my 5 minutes of fame to Catherine Zeta Jones’s coming out with Bipolar II Disorder. I had to explain it to a BBC Radio Leeds show presenter that I had treated cases of Bipolar II disorder in my Bipolar Disorders Clinic, and Catherine Zeta Jones was not making it up to get publicity for her new film!

More recently and I think will most definitely become a career highlight – I found out that I am one of the lucky NHS colleagues picked out of a hat to attend the NHS 75th anniversary service at Westminster Abbey.

This feels like a great honour and something that I am really looking forward to attending. I will be sharing the experience with four fellow colleagues from LYPFT who have also been chosen.

Any challenges along the way?

I would have to say the Coronavirus pandemic has been the biggest challenge in recent years. Due to my age at the time, I was required to shield at home, which I really didn’t want to do.

Although it did give me some time to do some writing, when the Trust started using Zoom it felt like a blessing – I was able to see my patients and my colleagues again and carry on training students.

To leave during a pandemic would have felt cowardly to me. That was the time I was most needed.

You have shared that you are almost the same age as the NHS itself, what has inspired you to keep working in it?

I feel as though my life’s work is not finished! I am still contributing. I don’t see myself as a pensioner at all. I just don’t want to stop the work that I love.

And finally, what message would you have for anyone thinking about a career in the NHS? Or perhaps a message to inspire someone.

The NHS is a unique institution. I have been lucky to have travelled and worked on 3 continents in 5 different healthcare systems and there is nothing else comparable to our NHS in world history – no better system of healthcare.

The NHS must be preserved – for this alone I believe working here is a good reason.

We hope you have enjoyed reading NHS 75 stories from our colleagues as we mark #NHS75

Read more staff stories on our blog page https://www.leedsandyorkpft.nhs.uk/news/blogs/