This week, His & Hers was given the opportunity to ask popular local GP, and in-demand medical expert, Dr Arun Ghosh (who regularly appears on the BBC to share his advice) a few questions. Naturally we couldn’t resist the opportunity to get our notebook out and start firing off those questions!
When did you first know that you wanted to become a doctor?
I come from a long history of medics in my family so was brought up with medicine in my blood. I can’t really recall wanting to be anything else. My father, sister and brother in law are all doctors and I married a nurse so you can imagine conversations around our family table are very one sided!
What are the best and worst things about your job as a GP?
I love being a GP because:
1. Every day is different. The diversity of patients and medical presentations is one of the most enjoyable aspects for me; I thrive on the variety and thrill of not knowing what will come through the door next.
2. It’s intellectually stimulating. As a GP I use all the knowledge I learnt at medical school, not just a small part of it. It’s a daily brainteaser that will never allow you to get bored. There’s nothing quite as interesting as people!
3. I treat the patient, not just the illness. GPs are able to offer holistic continuity of care for their patients. I love building long-term relationships and treat patients and their families over their lifespan. I have the power to make a real difference, not only in one life, but in many as we all affect others around us.
I dislike the fact that:
1. It’s a 24 hour job with people becoming ill at any time. I can often miss personal events or have little time as you can often be distracted by that sick patient playing on your mind.
2. The patients who don’t respond well to treatment. It’s good to remember we are not Gods and sometimes the science just isn’t where we want it or need it to be to make patients better. This means patients can still suffer and as a doctor being powerless to help is a very uncomfortable for us to handle.
3. The cost to practice is getting very high with medical indemnity insurance costs soaring and more and more medical cases hitting the headlines, medicine has become a risky business with a rug that could be pulled at any point. We are only human and mistakes happen to the best doctors I worry about whether this puts off a lot of younger doctors that are coming through.
Do media scare stories about health / diet make GPs’ jobs harder?
In short ‘Yes’. We just can’t compete or even keep up with the headlines and latest keep fit or diet crazes. Poorly written headlines and scare stories about the latest cause of heart disease or cancer causing foods or worse medication to avoid leads to a lot of false perceptions in the general public. These can be so ingrained that even when the evidence is so overwhelming not to be the case we still see people making bad decisions based on this. The MMR vaccine crisis is probably the best recent example with a worldwide increase in measles and children suffering because of a false fear parents have based on false data and stories.
With so much misinformation out there, it can be difficult for the layperson to know where to start when trying to lead a healthier lifestyle. Can you name a few things that most people would benefit from doing to deal with information overload about our health?
Health Anxiety is becoming an increasing problem that GPs are seeing due to all this confusing information leading to a real strain on people’s lives. If you find this is you then a few tips would be:
1. Keep a diary: note how often you check your body, ask people for reassurance, or look at health information and try to gradually reduce how often you do these things over a week
2. Challenge your thoughts: draw a table with two columns and write your health worries in the first column, then more balanced thoughts in the second – for example, in the first column you may write, “I’m worried about these headaches” and in the second, “Headaches can often be a sign of stress”
3. Keep busy with other things when you get the urge to check your body. For example, distract yourself by going for a walk or calling a friend.
4. Don’t stop or try to get back to normal activities as soon as possible: try to gradually start doing things you’ve been avoiding because of your health worries, such as sports or socialising.
5. Try to relax: try using a simple breathing exercise or visit a Mind website for some relaxation exercises
You’re often asked to share your medical advice on TV. When will we next see you on our screens
I am still regularly doing the Jeremy Kyle Show but have a new series Health: Truth or Scare airing on BBC1 at 9.25am every morning where we explore all the most common Old Wives’ tales to see if they are true or not. However the best place to see me now is via our YouTube Channel where we are regularly posting medical issues and discussing the latest health treatments and cures. https://www.youtube.com/user/MyHealthAdvice
You’ve also been working with Mothercare to help promote body positivity for new mums. Could you tell His & Hers how you became involved with the #bodyproudmums campaign?
Its been a real highlight of my career to be made Health Ambassador of Mothercare. They approached me having seen my media work and were looking for a doctor who could give real advice about the true reality of your body after birth. It’s a great positive campaign that celebrates the beauty of the post-birth body and represents a part of motherhood that is rarely portrayed in the media. I was invited to be part of the Body Proud Mums talk as they boldly sought to normalise their experiences, spark a positive conversation and help mums feel confident and proud of their bodies. At the heart of the campaign is the belief that all mums are beautiful. After all, their bodies have just performed a medical miracle.
Could you share a few of your career highlights so far?
- Working in Italy as a part of a European GP exchange programme opened my eyes to how healthcare can be provided in many different ways and the trans-cultural differences between people and how this affects your health beliefs.
- Opening the Ghosh Medical Group and watching this going from strength to strength.
- Being voted in the top 250 doctors in the country by a group of my peers for Tatler.
- Mother Care Health Ambassador.
- Media Medicine has evolved rapidly in the last 10 years from a handful of doctors to now being a major source of medical information for the general public.
We’re very grateful to Dr Ghosh for taking a brief break from his hectic schedule to share an insight into his career. We can’t wait to hear more from him in the future!
Related feature: Dr Ghosh is filmed for a new BBC series.