‘The appreciation for the NHS means so much to us’ Dr Ranj reveals what it’s really like working on the front line of the pandemic

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  • It’s a time of great worry and anxiety for everyone at the moment, but it’s undoubtedly scarier for the amazing people working on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    One person who is busily working for the NHS is This Morning’s Dr Ranj Singh, who works as a paediatrician in London.

    Having joined forces with singing stars Beverley Knight and Joss Stone to release a charity single for the NHS, the 40-year-old former Strictly Come Dancing contestant spoke to our sister publication Woman’s Own about what it’s really like to be on the front line, how all the NHS staff are helping each other out and why he thinks dancing is great therapy…

    Firstly, thank you for all the work you’re doing for the country. How are you?

    I work with children, and we don’t see a huge number of kids with COVID-19, which is a really good thing. But the problem is people are staying away from hospital because they’re worried, either that what they’ve got is the virus or that they might pick it up – or they’re worried about putting strain on the NHS.

    Is that a big concern for you?

    The biggest concern is stopping the spread of the virus and trying to stop people getting it and ending up in hospital. But we’re not seeing other conditions we’d normally expect to see, and that’s a big concern. If you’re really sick, you should come to see us.

    You’ve teamed up with over 100 artists to launch an NHS charity single. Who will this support?

    The funding is going towards raising money for NHS Charities Together and You Okay, Doc?, a charity supporting doctors’ mental health, which is obviously really important right now.

    How have you all been helping one another get through?

    People are talking to each other a lot more. They’re also talking to professional services to have that therapeutic conversation they need. Generally speaking, everyone’s being a lot kinder to each other, and that really, really helps.

    How do you de-stress after work?

    My go-to way of chilling out is to sit on the sofa in my onesie and watch Netflix. That is how I switch off my brain. I also like to do [online] dance classes, because that gets out all my nervous energy and anxiety and really boosts my endorphins.

    Is that since you were on Strictly?

    Yes. I hate exercising – I actually hate going to the gym. Since Strictly, I found that dancing is a form of exercise that I really, really love. It helps me get fit and feel great, so I recommend it to everybody. It’s so good, and we’ve got all the Strictly pros on Instagram doing their live classes now, so there’s no excuse!

    What impact has all the support from the public had on you and your colleagues?

    People are doing wonderful things for the NHS, donating food and other items like toiletries. Then, every Thursday night, when there’s a show of appreciation with the Clap for Carers, that really means a lot. It’s a small gesture, but it means so much to my colleagues. That is such a lovely, wonderful, overwhelming feeling.

    Finally, what’s your best advice for people feeling anxious about the current situation?

    Anxiety is a very normal feeling right now, so don’t be hard on yourself. Just keep reminding yourself it’s OK, and that you can get through it and you will feel better again – it won’t feel like this forever. Maybe actively try and do something to manage those feelings, like meditation or exercise. Try to keep an eye on your diet, and sleep is something we scrimp on often, but it really helps our brains to recover and to manage stress and anxiety. And finally, just take each day as it comes. Give yourself a break, be kind to yourself and look out for each other.

    The NHS Relief Single is a cover of Bill Withers’ Lean On Me, and is available to stream and on iTunes. To donate, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/NHSRelief