Good Morning Britain's resident GP Dr Hilary Jones has been a pillar of support to Kate Garraway as her husband Derek Draper continues to fight the effects of COVID.
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During an exclusive chat with HELLO!, the medical expert revealed he was on hand from the beginning and described his colleague's journey as "heartbreaking".
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Derek, 54, was first admitted to hospital in March 2020 after he contracted coronavirus. He was then in intensive care for months before leaving hospital one year later and now requires round-the-clock care at home.
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"It has been heartbreaking to follow Derek's illness which I was involved in from the start," Dr Hilary told HELLO!. "Kate knows she will always have my support as well as that of the magnificent carers who are looking after him."
Heaping praise on the mum-of-two, Dr Hilary added: "I thoroughly admire the fact that she has been such a comfort and inspiration to others affected in a similar situation and is constantly thinking of them as well."
Dr Hilary has praised Kate Garraway's courage
Asked how he found covering the current pandemic over the past 18 months, the 68-year-old confessed it has been a "professionally challenging and exciting task as well being a daunting one".
"Keeping across all of the science and the data has been tiring but very necessary and responsible," he continued. "I have been as objective and accurate as possible and whilst it has been fulfilling.
"It can sometimes be stressful when you see NHS colleagues being abused and taken for granted and when there are vile trolls on social media who cowardly hide behind their anonymity and who are not only ill-informed, ignorant and abusive but frankly dangerous at the same time."
The medical expert has offered advice to Kate over the past 18 months
During these difficult few months, switching off has been no easy feat - however, focusing on his new book, Frontline, has been the perfect escapism for him.
"I have the useful ability to switch off when I need to," he explained. "Exercise is a great way I find to relax as is fun company with family and friends.
"Another great antidote for me these last few months was writing my debut novel which is called FRONTLINE, (published by Welbeck) - a love story set during the First World War when the Spanish flu was present at the same time."
Dr Hilary has also taken part in a new campaign as part of the NHS 'Help Us, Help You,' supported by Public Health England. He is encouraging people with potential cancer symptoms to come forward for lifesaving checks.
"As a GP and having seen instances of urological and abdominal cancers in the past, I can honestly say if you're experiencing any tummy troubles for a few weeks, your GP will want to know about it," he said.
Kate's husband Derek spent one year in hospital
"Hopefully it's nothing serious, but if it is cancer there are lots of treatment options available and the earlier cancer is found, the better. I know that some of my patients are nervous to come to my clinic because of coronavirus, but the NHS has put measures in place to ensure we can see you safely so please, come and see us."
In July, the NHS announced £20 million investment to speed up cancer diagnosis so that thousands more people can get potentially life-saving cancer checks. The NHS Long Term Plan committed to catching three-quarters of cancers early, when they are easier to treat, up from half at present.
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