Dr Zareena Hyder on the challenges of becoming a TV star and making a positive difference
PUBLISHED: 12:09 15 January 2018
Real life TV star Dr Zareena Hyder discusses being a ‘GP behind closed doors’, surviving the cold and flu season and swapping the city for village life in Chartridge
Born and bred in rural Lincolnshire, it’s no wonder Zareena Hyder yearned for her two children Hyder, seven, and Haris four, to experience a childhood that’s set amongst the beautiful backdrop of the Chiltern Hills. After three years in Slough, Zareena, 35 and her husband Dr Kaiser Munir, 36, moved their family out to Chartridge in favour of ‘long country walks, fresh eggs and pressed organic apple juice.’
As a young couple, the doctor duo began their medical careers in the busy City of Leeds. However, since having children they have strived for ‘a life that’s closer to nature,’ so the young family now spend their down time ‘riding bikes, growing their own fruit and vegetables and eating in a range of local cafes and restaurants. Zareena explains: “After having children we wanted more outdoor space, the Chiltern’s was a perfect location with some fantastic parks, walking trails and farms whilst also having great access into London by road and Tube.”
Zareena became a star of Channel 5’s hit ‘observational documentary’ GPs Behind Closed Doors at Farnham Road Surgery in Slough.
With a patient list of around 25,000, Zareena says: “The combination of varied personalities within both our workforce and patients naturally resulted in a bit of banter and good humour, while an ethnically diverse population ensured some interesting medical issues were captured.”
Over a million viewers tuned in to watch the show each week but being filmed daily for eight months did have its challenges, says Zareena, “Getting used to four cameras moving around in my consulting room and zooming in on me unexpectedly was hard. However, as a doctor I was hoping to raise awareness of the challenges we face in General Practice and the NHS,” she reveals.
Within her profession, Zareena describes ‘being under a lot of pressure’ and facing the difficulty of dealing with patients’ multiple problems within short time frames. She says: “If a patient has multiple problems brought in a ten minute appointment it becomes very challenging and almost impossible to give their problems the care and attention they deserve. It helps if patients bring one problem at a time to the doctor, this means we are able to deal with it properly and give the patient the best treatment and management possible.”
A specialist in Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT), Paediatrics and Drug Treatment Services, Zareena is passionate about raising awareness of various medical conditions and offering help and advice. As a guest writer for Toddle About magazine’s Controversy Corner, Zareena believes that this in addition to her TV work is ‘A great way to highlight crucial healthcare messages across to a wider audience.’ Being part of a show that touched on medical issues such as TB, Still’s Disease, depression and cancer meant Zareena was able to make a positive difference to the wider community and beyond, she feels.
Prior to filming GPs Behind Closed Doors Zareena had never taken part in any TV work. She says this fresh experience helped to shape new perspectives towards her profession: “It made me realise how lucky and privileged we are as GPs, patients open up to us with some extremely personal problems that often they have not been able to share with anyone else, we are in a position to be able to make a positive difference to people’s lives,” says Zareena.
Of the 35 episodes that aired until June 2017, the episode that has stayed closest to Zareena’s heart is one which saw Farnham’s Surgery’s Reception Manager Alison shave her head in support of colleague Glenda, who had been diagnosed with cancer and as a result of chemotherapy has lost all her hair. “This episode shows some really moving scenes and it made us really close as a team, but it also reaches out to anyone who has been affected by cancer.”
Discussing the aftermath of filming the show, Zareena recalls the ‘overwhelmingly positive interest’ members of the public have shown her: “Some people wanted to ask more about medical issues and others just wanted to comment on my choice of shoes and dresses!” she says.
Dr Zareena Hyder’s top 3 tips for winter well-being
• Eat well – “A healthy balanced diet including fresh fruit and vegetables is great during any season. During the winter whilst the weather can be dreary and grey at times, try to very the colours of the food on your plate to get a whole range of immune boosting vitamins and minerals. The Tavern in nearby Chesham serves a nutritious and tasty menu, I love their smashed avocado and poached egg on toast.”
• Keep fit – “It’s essential to maintain fitness levels during the winter as it’s easy to overindulge during the winter months, especially around the festive Christmas period – Chartridge Golf Club has a stunning outdoor course, which you can make as challenging as you wish, they are even due to open an indoor course perfect for keeping active during the colder, wetter days.”
• Fresh air – “It is tempting to stay cosy indoors during the winter months, but make sure you still get a dose of fresh air; the great outdoors can help relieve stress, anxiety, depression and even tension headaches. Our children enjoy Lowndes Park, which is great for a family walk around the lake and playing fields - they especially love the zip wire! If you aren’t able to get to the park, make the most of having a stroll down your street or even into your garden every day if you can.”
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