Dr Arun Ghosh on how to look after your physical & mental health during the Coronavirus epidemic

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Dr Arun Ghosh, health advice

This week, His & Hers asked Dr Arun Ghosh, who is often called upon to share his expert medical advice on TV, if he could answer a few of our health-related questions…

Q. While we still know relatively little about COVID-19, it can be difficult to know how much, if anything, we can all do to try and boost our immunity to this new virus. Would you advise readers to take the same kind of steps that they would in general to boost their immune system, such as maintaining a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep and exercise etc?

A. Keeping your immune system healthy isn’t that difficult. It’s the age old advice: eat right, move more, sleep well and watch your stress levels. In real terms this is actually more difficult to do than you think. Diet should be varied with plenty of fruit and veggies (of different types) to give you the full amount of vitamins and minerals needed to keep the immune system at its best. Sleep should be regular and last for at least six hours or more, and that’s difficult in lock-down, as often we break our regular routine. Motivating ourselves to get moving more is especially difficult for those who are used to getting into the gym or play team sports outside. We aren’t all joggers or keep fit video watchers, but regular exercise for at least 30 minutes a day is clinically proven to help beat heart disease and boost immunity, so it’s so important in this time that we keep moving. Stress is the hardest to tackle – it has an effect on diet, sleep and motivation to exercise, and with finical health worries on the increase, as a doctor I have seen rising levels of stress affecting my patients.

Q. What are the main concerns you’re hearing about from patients at the moment?

A. There is a lot of anxiety right now, but the main worries I am hearing are regarding isolated loved ones who can’t be seen as they are in lock-down and how to best look after them. Many people are also worried over new symptoms which could be Coronavirus and getting them seen to. I’m also getting a lot of calls regarding when testing and vaccines will be available. It’s understandable but many people aren’t actually going to the doctors, and some GP surgeries and A&E departments have seen a big drop in attendance. This is also a concern as many people may not be presenting with serious symptoms such as a lump or bleeding, which could lead to serious complications later on which could potentially have been avoided. It’s so important if you have any symptoms you get these checked out even if it’s via 111 or one of the virtual consultations that many clinics offer.

Q. You’re currently offering Coronavirus testing privately, which is potentially enormously useful for employers of key workers who need to be sure that they’re not putting staff and customers at risk. In Germany, we’ve seen public and private healthcare working together to treat, test and mitigate risk for the public during the Coronavirus outbreak. Do you think the UK strategy is likely to become more similar to Germany’s, involving both public and private healthcare providers as much as possible?

A. Ghosh Medical Group was already a registered screening company prior to the outbreak, so all tests offered meet the highest standards. There is no doubt that the key to beating this virus is TESTING, TESTING, TESTING! Other countries have proven this and those that have done well through this awful time have mostly had testing as an integral part of their plan to beat it. Without knowing how many people are infected, we aren’t able to trace those who could have spread the virus and identify which areas it is spreading to. In my opinion, the UK has made some poor decisions in regards to the tests they have purchased and who they have offered the current testing to. I do think the country needs to come together as others have done. There is already a huge effort in the private sector to come together, the problem has been getting through the red tape to have our offers of help accepted. We have seen a similar problem with the purchasing of essential PPE for all our front line staff. Also, there needs to be a more cohesive strategy which so far hasn’t been happening. The NHS has been chronically underfunded for the last 20 years and the just does not have the lab facilities or equipment to handle this on its own. We are all in this together.
We have been asked to help key working sections of the community to keep them going and testing has been vital for these guys who are supplying food, pharmaceuticals and medicines to the whole country. I’m so proud of how our little company all pulled together to concentrate on fighting the Coronavirus and did our part to keep Britain going through the crisis. If we can do it so can so many other clinics up and down the country.

Q. The epidemic has given us all a lot more to potentially feel sad or anxious about – from health-related anxiety, to facing financial pressures, to social isolation, to suffering grief and loss. His & Hers appreciates that it’s very difficult to give ‘one size fits all’ advice, but do you have any general advice that you tend to give patients to help with stress or anxiety?

A. It’s still true to say that most of us will be fine even if we get Coronavirus, so it’s important that we put our efforts in to helping those who are vulnerable and potentially at higher risk. I am trying to reassure my patients that though this is a scary time – the likes of which we will see only once in 100 years – we can be really grateful for our amazing NHS and highly trained medical teams, which during the last pandemic didn’t exist.  If we do get ill, there is still space in hospitals and still staff manning them. We will see an end to this and the ultimate prevention of a vaccine will be produced I have no doubt.

Q. Are there any steps that you’re particularly keen for the government to take over the coming days and weeks to keep medical professionals, care workers, essential workers, and the general public as safe as possible?

A. I think the immediate one is in regards to essential “PPE” hitting the front line. We have seen images from around the world showing how well other health workers are protected so we know we aren’t as well protected as we should be. No doctor, nurse or carer provider should be going to see patients scared they are not adequately armed for a day’s work. After this we need to see wider spread testing and the use of the Antibody and Antigen Tests, for example, liked those used in Germany; this will be a game changer in the battle against Coronavirus and will go a long way towards reassuring people of their status and in helping to get the country back to work again. Finally we need to tell people that though we need them to stay at home, if they have any symptoms, they must seek medical advice – otherwise the next wave to hit and break the NHS won’t be Coronavirus, but all the other conditions not treated soon enough and that could be an even bigger problem!

The Ghosh Medical Group has been busy helping key workers across a wide variety of sectors who have had to carry on working during the lockdown.

Dr Ghosh said: “We’ve been helping to provide appropriate testing, fit-for-purpose PPE as well as advice on how to manage employees who may be presenting with symptoms. This includes contact tracing and helping those who they have been in contact with, too.

“We all have a duty of care to look after each other at this time and that’s the case even more so for companies expecting their employees to go back to work.

“I admit that I’ve been taken aback by how diverse the essential key worker sector is.

“For example, we recently helped a pallet company who needed to continue producing the pallets. Everything from medicines to baby milk is delivered on a pallet and nothing in bulk could be delivered unless this company could continue producing the pallets. There are many examples of this that we can give of essential work that needs to be maintained to keep Britain going. Many of these companies may not have been classed as key workers previously nor would they have sought our help.”

Chris Reynolds of The Reynolds Group echoed Dr. Ghosh’s sentiments: “We are a key working company and it was vital we kept working through this current crisis to supply food and pharmaceuticals to the whole of the UK.  The testing we did with Ghosh Medical Group really helped keep the right staff in work and isolate those at risk. This made us all feel safer in work and has kept us going through the pandemic.”

Dr Ghosh added: “We all have a part to play in this crisis and anyone in the healthcare industry should be doing whatever they can to keep Britain safe. I’m proud that we are able to offer the right advice, tests and equipment as part of getting Britain better, healthier and back up on its feet.”

Danny Beesley – Operations Manager for Ghosh MedicalGroup said: “In these unprecedented times we are happy to be able to assist in the testing for COVID 19. Testing can take place at either our Liverpool Rodney Street practice, or our Wirral practice which is based at The Barns, 5 Village Road, Oxton. We also have registered medical professionals who can come out to your business address to do tests. Our expert medical team can cover North West England and Greater London areas.”

For more information on Covid 19 testing and PPE, visit: https://www.drarunghosh.co.uk/private-medical-services/health-screening/covid-19-(coronavirus)-testing.aspx

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