July is ‘Good Care Month’, and after the year we’ve had, we thought it was time we give some consideration to the carers themselves.

For many people care is a career choice, but for thousands of others it is something that has been thrust upon them. When a loved one becomes ill or less able to look after themselves, we can find ourselves taking on more and more responsibility.

And while you may adapt to the situation happily and without complaint, it is important that you also take the time to look after yourself.

Physical fitness

According to a recent research project conducted by Carers UK, many carers report that they would like to do more physical activity but find it hard to fit it in.

At The Mayfair GP we are passionate about lifestyle medicine and the benefits it brings. Physical activity has a huge positive impact on both our physical and mental wellbeing.

Here are some ways that you can increase your fitness without neglecting your duties:

Walk more

If you have a tendency to drive to shops or doctors appointments, why not take the time to walk occasionally? It might not always be possible or convenient, but a walk can raise your heart rate and lift your spirits, and the fresh air will help too.

Even just a turn around the block will make a difference. If it’s possible to take the person you care for with you, then the change of scene will do you both some good.

Make fitness part of your routine

You don’t have to get up at 6am for a run to make exercise work for you. Even if you only get half an hour to yourself mid-morning, there are short Youtube fitness videos that you can do. And you can put your feet up for ten minutes.

Make the most of what you’ve got

Gym memberships can be expensive, and so can home exercise equipment. But you can get the same effect without the hefty price tag, just by being a bit resourceful.

Got a couple of cans of beans in the cupboard? Use them as weights for strength training. A dressing gown cord can make a great yoga band! It’s all about adding a bit of resistance so your muscles have something to work against.

Looking after yourself matters

When you’re caring for someone else it’s easy to forget about your own needs. You may push them so far down the list of priorities that you may as well have forgotten them. But remember: the stronger and fitter you are, the better carer you will be.

Increasing your strength and stamina through physical exercise now will only make things easier. Especially as the physical demands of caring become more challenging.

If you care for a family member, and you feel like you need support, call us to make an appointment on 07568 369 455‬ or email info@themayfairgp.com‬.

For more information on how you can improve your health and wellbeing through lifestyle choices, visit our lifestyle medicine page or get in touch!

After more than a year of being pretty much contained between the same four walls, more and more of us are beginning to consider venturing abroad once more.

But what do we need to do to ensure that we can do so safely, without endangering ourselves, other travellers or the people of whichever country we choose to visit?

Whether you wish to travel for leisure, or for work – there is a requirement for COVID testing before you travel.

Follow the guidelines

The first and most important step is to keep up-to-date with the government’s COVID travel guidance. Whilst this can change, if you are booking ahead then it might be sensible to look for a country that has remained fairly consistently on the ‘green’ list, to avoid disappointment.

Get tested

Wherever you are travelling, the airline is likely to request that you can provide evidence of a negative COVID test.

This may seem like a hassle, but if you consider that you will be confined in a plane breathing the same air as a few hundred other people, you might feel reassured to know that every one of them has tested negative for COVID before boarding that flight.

The COVID PCR fit-to-fly certificate

However, to prevent NHS COVID testing centres being awash with eager travellers, these are still reserved for people who are actually experiencing symptoms.

If you need a test in order to travel, you will need to visit a specialist provider who can produce a COVID PCR fit-to-fly certificate. You will need to show this when checking in to your flight. This generally needs to be carried out within the 72-hour period before your flight. However, this can vary depending on the airline or the destination you are travelling to.

Where can I get my fit-to-fly certificate?

Here at The Mayfair GP we are on the government’s list of providers for private COVID testing. We offer the mandatory day 2 and 8 PCR testing as well as the day 5 test-to-release scheme. We can also provide you with a COVID PCR fit-to-fly certificate.

The Mayfair GP uses UKAS-accredited laboratories and our fit-to-fly certificates are valid for international travel.

How long will it take?

We know that most people don’t have a lot of time to spare in the run-up to a holiday. But we can offer all our patients home visits, so we can arrange to do the test at your home. We then get it couriered to the lab, while you get on with your packing. There are a selection of different test times ranging from 3 hours * to 24 hours. Contact us for more information.

We can also offer testing on your return to the UK, allowing you to return to normal life secure in the knowledge that you are fit and well.

To summarise we are currently offering the following:

  1. Fit to Fly – turnaround times from 3hours to 24hours* different pricing for both
  2. Day 2 and 8 mandatory testing for amber list countries + people who have not had both vaccines by the NHS
  3. Day 5 Testing – test to release only
  4. Day 2, 5, and 8, testing package – for amber list who have not had both vaccines
  5. Day 2 testing – GREEN list
  6. *Day 2 testing – amber list + have been fully vaccinated by the NHS (more than 14 days ago) – *effective from 4am 19th July

To book your COVID PCR fit-to-fly test and for further information and exact pricing, email us at info@TheMayfairGP.com.

It might be tempting to rest on your laurels when it comes to the flu. With a nationwide lockdown in place for much of the past year, winter 2020/21 saw a surprising drop in the number of flu cases across the country, and indeed the world.

However, with things opening up and people spending more time socialising with others, there is a real chance of a surge in flu cases this coming winter. In fact, some experts are concerned that this year may be worse than ever, as our immune systems lack recent exposure to the virus.

Nobody wants to start thinking about the winter months just yet. However, when it comes to protecting yourself from viruses like flu, it’s important to make changes early.

Here at The Mayfair GP, we have a firm belief in lifestyle medicine. Here are some lifestyle medicine tips that will have a direct, positive impact on your health, and will help you to avoid flu.

Boost your immune system

So what can you do to help improve your chances of fighting off the flu this year? Well the good news is that if you start now, there are lots of small changes you can make that will help to boost your immune system, and keep you fighting fit.

Diet

We all know that eating well plays a vital role in keeping us fit and well, but did you know it can also help to keep your immune system in shape? Here are our top tips for foods to eat to fight off flu:

Citrus fruits – most people know that eating citrus fruits like oranges and lemons helps to top up our vitamin C levels. However, what you might not realise is that because our body cannot produce or store vitamin C, you need to be eating these fruits on a daily basis to see an effect. So if you can eat an orange a day between now and the start of the flu season, you should be A-OK. Other vitamin C-containing foods include red bell peppers, broccoli and spinach

Garlic – as well as making savoury dishes taste divine, garlic is also great for your immune system. Experts think its infection-fighting value comes from having a lot of sulphate-containing compounds, like allicin

Almonds – almonds contain a high level of vitamin E, which is great at keeping your immune system in good working order. Unfortunately vitamin E is fat soluble, which means it needs to be eaten with fat in order for your body to absorb it properly. Almonds are a particularly good way of getting vitamin E into your diet, as they also contain lots of healthy fats

Other lifestyle medicine tips

Whilst eating a diet rich in the foods above will go a long way towards improving your immune system, there are some other things you can do to help things along:

  • Stop smoking – smoking lowers your immunity, increasing your risk of contracting viruses like flu (and being sicker with them when you do)
  • Drink less alcohol – reducing your alcohol consumption will improve your overall health and leave your body stronger to fend off illness
  • Get more sleep – if you can try to get a full seven to eight hours’ sleep most nights, this will help you to avoid illness. Studies have shown that people who are sleep deprived are more susceptible to viruses

For more information about Lifestyle Medicine, or to book an appointment to discuss how it can work for you, please contact us.

Cervical Screening Awareness week falls on 14th to 20th June this year, and it’s now more important than ever that women ensure they are up to date with their screening.

The pandemic has affected almost every aspect of our lives, but arguably the impact on healthcare has been the most concerning. Many people missed the opportunity for early diagnosis of a problem when appointments were cancelled during the worst phases of the pandemic.

Don’t panic!

When caught early, cervical cancer is one of the more treatable cancers. A smear test checks for any changes in the cells of the cervix that might suggest cancer will occur.

So long as you are reasonably up to date with your screenings, it is highly unlikely that missing one during the pandemic means that any abnormality will be so advanced that it is not easily treated.

However, it is important that you attend a cervical screening as soon as possible to put your mind at rest.

What is a cervical screening looking for?

What we are looking for in a smear test is not cervical cancer itself, but signs of a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. This infection can, in some cases, be a precursor to cervical cancer.

HPV is actually very common, and most people will contract it at some point in their lifetime. Even if you don’t have many sexual partners. So even if HPV is found during your smear test, this doesn’t mean that you definitely have cervical cancer. But it will give doctors a head start in treating you if there is a problem.

Celebs get on board

International fashion brand Misspap has joined the fight against cervical cancer. It has launched a campaign to promote Cervical Screening Awareness Week.

The DON’T MISS YOUR PAP campaign features celebrities including Katie Price and Hollyoaks’ Sarah Jayne Dunn. It also includes a specially designed underwear set, with a poppable crotch to make smear tests easier. And 100 per cent of profits from the campaign will be donated to Eve Appeal. A charity devoted to gynaecological cancer research.

Book your cervical screening today

If you are keen to book your cervical screening appointment ASAP, The Mayfair GP can offer cervical screening in a comfortable, discreet environment.

We have access to sophisticated and accurate diagnostic tests. In the unlikely event that your results reveal any abnormality, we can perform further investigations quickly and thoroughly. If required, we can also refer you for a consultation with a specialist.

To book a cervical screening, please contact us at The Mayfair GP by calling us on 07568 369 455‬ or email info@themayfairgp.com.

With the increased availability of lateral flow tests and more than 50 per cent of the population having received at least one dose of vaccine, you might be forgiven for thinking PCR testing for COVID is now a thing of the past.

However, much as we would all like to think that the end is in sight, there are still some very valid reasons why widespread PCR testing will be necessary for a while yet:

1. Confirming new cases

Whilst lateral flow tests are a useful tool – particularly for picking up asymptomatic cases – they are not as reliable as PCR tests, so if you have symptoms of COVID, including:

  • a new, continuous cough
  • fever
  • loss of taste and/or smell

Then you should seek a PCR test immediately. In fact, if you have tested positive on a lateral flow test, you should also have a PCR test to confirm the result.

This will make certain that you get the right treatment, should treatment be necessary, as well as ensuring that government figures for new cases are accurate.

2. Slowing the spread

If your own health concerns aren’t enough to sway you towards having a PCR test, consider the wider benefits: the greater the number of undiagnosed cases in the community, the quicker the virus will spread.

So for every COVID case that is confirmed and in isolation, think of the number of additional cases that can be avoided. It is no exaggeration to say that by having a PCR test you could be saving someone’s life.

3. Assessing our progress

“Do we want to know how well vaccines are working? We’re going to have to test,” said David O’Connor, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
“How are we going to know whether the variants are more contagious? We’re going to have to test.
“How are we going to know if the vaccines are effectively controlling the variants? We’re going to have to test.”

As a nation, we have been through a lot over the past year, and all in the name of conquering this virus. Without accurate, up-to-date information about the number of cases, how do we know if our efforts are working?

Preventing the next pandemic

With new variants emerging all the time, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we will ever be completely free from COVID. And that means we’re going to have to learn to live with it. In order to do that, however, we need to keep a close eye on its progression and find out:

  • How well are new variants responding to the vaccine?
  • How quickly does each variant spread?
  • Are some variants more deadly than others?

“It becomes less about trying to interrupt the transmission of the disease and more about understanding, where is the virus?” says Dr Jennifer Nuzzo, head of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security. “What are we missing? And, you know, what could be coming down the road?”

So if we want life to return to some form of normality and stay there, PCR testing looks like it is here to stay.

The Mayfair GP aims to make the PCR test process as convenient as possible and can offer a mobile service, so we can come to you to do the test. We courier the test to the lab, so we can get the result to you as quickly as possible.

We also offer testing for recent arrivals to the UK – both the mandatory day 2 and 8 testing, and the 5-day test to release scheme.

To book a PCR test, please get in touch via email at info@themayfairgp.com or call us on 07568 369 455.

At The Mayfair GP, we believe in the positive effects of Lifestyle Medicine – looking after your body in a holistic way to help promote a healthy lifestyle and prevent the onset of disease.

Alongside a healthy, balanced diet, exercise is hugely important not just to help our physical health, but also to promote mental and emotional wellbeing. Walking, running and sports like tennis are all great ways to increase your heart rate and get the endorphins flowing.

For a more gentle activity that also has many health benefits, yoga can be enjoyed by young and old, on its own, or as an adjunct to other activities.

Health benefits of yoga

Yoga presents the perfect full body, mind and spirit workout, allowing you to focus on your breathing and practise mindfulness whilst also stretching the muscles of the body, promoting suppleness and strength.

Among the many health benefits of yoga, studies have shown it could help to:

  • Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, by increasing the body’s production of adiponectin, an anti-inflammatory and reducing cholesterol
  • Improve your quality of life, by reducing depression, anxiety and stress and promoting calm
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Promote good sleep – all exercise will help you sleep, but yoga is particularly good at soothing both body and mind
  • Help improve breathing control

Yoga for a healthier lifestyle

At The Mayfair GP we like to offer our patients a chance to improve their overall health, and we work closely with local yoga provider, Jo Goff, to do that. Jo is a qualified Vinyasa Flow yoga teacher and teaches all ages and abilities.

Jo says:

I was working in the world of fashion PR and living an intense and unsustainable lifestyle when I found yoga. Through persistence of going to regular classes, I began to learn the tools of how to look internally and slow my life down. I was able to see the amazing value and benefits that yoga offered.

Yoga is a lifestyle choice and comprises meditation, pranayama (breathe control), nutrition, and asanas (postures) which lead us on a path of conscious living. A regular yoga practice inspires a person to become more aware of their choices. It helps them lead a more fulfilling life and encourages them to become more content with what they have.

“Yoga practice really helped in my recovery..”

Jo continues:

Yoga has been fundamental in keeping me grounded through the good and slightly tougher times in life. I have had various major physical surgical procedures, and found my years of yoga practice really helped in my recovery. Especially having learnt how to work with the breath, and my body was in a strong and healthy place which helped with the healing. I have also learnt how to modify my yoga practice through fertility treatment, pregnancy. Over the years I have taught some amazing clients from beginners through to those more experienced of all ages.

Once you begin yoga, you will gain an understanding of your own physical and mental awareness. You can then deepen your practice, initially with the guidance of a teacher. You can then work on your own once you have learnt the skills.

I look forward to seeing you soon on the mat!

Find out more about Jo Goff’s one-to-one yoga classes and group sessions in north London by visiting www.jogoffyoga.com.

If you would like to find out more about Lifestyle Medicine and how we can help you to lead a healthier lifestyle, please contact us at The Mayfair GP by emailing: info@themayfairgp.com .

Dementia Action Week will take place this year on 17-23 May 2021. At The Mayfair GP, we are committed to providing dementia support to those suffering with the illness, as well as their families, in whatever way we can. This past year has certainly been tough on those living with dementia.

What is dementia?

The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem solving and language.

Dementia can be caused when the brain is damaged by a disease, such as Alzheimers, but this is not the only cause.

The most common causes of dementia are:

  • Alzheimer’s disease – a physical condition caused by a build-up of proteins in the brain. This damages the brain cells’ ability to transmit messages and eventually leads to deterioration.
  • Vascular dementia – this is caused by problems with blood supply to the brain, often due to stroke damage.
  • Frontotemporal dementia – this tends to affect younger people, with the average age range being 45 to 65. This form of dementia affects the frontal and temporal lobes. It causes problems with social functioning, decision making, problem solving, speech, comprehension and language. It is a progressive condition that worsens over time.
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies – another progressive condition, dementia with Lewy bodies affects movement and motor control. It may cause tremors, falls, etc.

Why has this year been so bad for dementia?

For those suffering with dementia, regular contact with others, and particularly with loved ones, can help them to keep on top of their symptoms. Visits from family members can give a day structure and help to retain memories of faces and events.

With care homes closed to visitors and strict lockdowns meaning that even those still living at home could receive minimal visits, that lifeline has been removed for many.

Research by the Alzheimer’s Society has shown that the past year has had a huge impact on those suffering with dementia. More than four in five (82%) people with dementia have experienced a deterioration in their symptoms. 50% reported increased memory loss. A third of people said they were having increased difficulty in speaking and understanding others. 28% had experienced a loss in the ability to perform basic tasks, such as dressing themselves.

We offer dementia support

As family members are allowed to visit loved ones again, the shock of their deteriorated state can be upsetting. Little can prepare you for the reality of a parent who no longer recognises you.

It can be equally hard to see family members who this time last year seemed fit and well. But now they might be struggling as their routine and contact with the outside world has been disrupted for so long.

At The Mayfair GP, we specialise in elderly care, and are able to diagnose, treat and manage illnesses like dementia. We can support patients with routine and home visits, but we can also help to support the whole family. Get in touch by calling 07568 369 455‬ or email info@themayfairgp.com .

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, and here at The Mayfair GP that’s a topic that is close to our hearts. Untreated perinatal mental illness is one of the leading causes of maternal death during pregnancy and in the first year after giving birth, so it is vitally important that healthcare workers are on the lookout for any warning signs.

Perinatal depression

Becoming a mother, especially for the first time, can be a daunting prospect, and the actuality is life changing. It is entirely normal to feel overwhelmed at times, both during pregnancy and in the weeks and months after birth. Particularly when you factor in the hormonal surges your body is experiencing.

However research suggests that, for one in ten mothers, this feeling isn’t limited to a few weepy moments. It can become a constant, ongoing depression.

Symptoms of perinatal depression include:

  • Feeling low or anxious
  • Struggling to sleep, even when your baby is asleep
  • Feeling like you can’t look after the baby
  • Feeling like life is not worth living
  • Difficulty in enjoying the good times

Postpartum psychosis

There is a condition rarer than postnatal depression – called postpartum psychosis . It affects around one in every 1000 women who give birth in the UK. Postpartum psychosis is a severe medical illness that constitutes a psychiatric emergency. If you think you, or someone you know, may be suffering from postpartum psychosis, you should seek help immediately.

Symptoms of postpartum psychosis include:

  • Depression
  • Mania – very high mood and energy
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations

Whilst postpartum psychosis is a serious mental illness that requires immediate medical attention, it should be noted that most women make a full recovery.

Dads can struggle too

Although perinatal mental health problems for mothers are a huge concern, it’s not just women who can find the adjustment to parenthood difficult.

According to Mark Williams, founder of Fathers Reaching Out – a campaign dedicated to paternal mental health – at least one in ten fathers suffer from postnatal depression. And he estimates the actual figure to be higher, as men tend to hide their feelings.

Williams stresses the importance of considering paternal mental health too. Parenthood can have far reaching effects for the father’s wellbeing. The rate of suicide among men increases between the ages of 30 and 44, and this increases when they enter into fatherhood. And a father’s mental health can affect the wellbeing of the mother and baby:

  • A father who is depressed or anxious is less likely to bond with the baby
  • Men have a stronger tendency than women to use negative coping mechanisms such as alcohol and drugs, and can become violent as a result
  • Fathers are the main source of support for mother and child during the postnatal period

What to do if you or someone you know is struggling

Here at The Mayfair GP, we are committed to supporting perinatal mental health. We offer a range of services for parents, including the family health clinic, health screenings and a comprehensive paediatric care service.

If you have concerns about yourself or a member of your family, please give us a call on 07568 369 455 to make a booking‬.

Monday 8 March was a day many of us had been waiting for, when the school gates finally opened again. But while for many families the return to school was a welcome relief, for some the effects of Lockdown have been far reaching, and the return to some sort of normality might be a long road. Here we look at things you can do as a parent, if you are concerned about children or your family’s mental health.

Managing the change

Especially within the wider context of a global pandemic, children may have felt very safe spending so much time at home over the past few months. So the return to school may be a daunting experience.

Separation anxiety can be a real problem for some children, particularly after so long spent within constant earshot of a parent. Add to the mix a sudden influx of ‘other people’, when for months they have been told to keep their distance. It’s no wonder that particularly younger children might be feeling anxious.

There are some things that you can do as a parent to ease the transition:

  • Encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling – try not to dismiss any nerves they might have about going to school. It might well be that you’re feeling anxious too, in which case tell them that and talk about things you can do together to help you feel more comfortable.
  • Talk them through the months ahead – the return to school is the first in a number of changes that will come over the next few months, so why not have a sit down with them, look at the calendar and show them what changes will be happening then. Talking about the really good things to come, like visits to the grandparents and birthday parties, can make these current changes feel more manageable.
  • Tell them what you’ll be doing while they’re at school – if they are feeling uncomfortable about being separated from you, it may help them to know what you’ll be doing that day, and remind them that being able to get your work or the chores done while they’re at school means you can spend more quality time with them when they get home

Regression

Some parents have noticed that their children seem to have regressed in the pandemic. Toilet-trained toddlers may suddenly be wetting the bed. Teenagers might throw tantrums, the likes of which you haven’t seen since their early years.

While this might seem alarming, it is really just your child’s way of expressing emotions that they might not know how to convey verbally. It is a cry for help, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Try to take this as an opportunity to talk to them about how they are feeling.

Teenagers can be encouraged to express themselves in other ways. Through art, perhaps? Or they can be taught to self-regulate through breathing exercises or by going for a walk or a run.

For younger children, they may just need that bit of extra attention. This might be hard to hear when as a parent you feel like you don’t have much left to give!

What to do if you feel like your child isn’t coping

Our children have been through a lot in the past year, and some of them will have found it easier to deal with than others. If you think your child is struggling, the first thing to remember is it isn’t your fault.

If you feel like you’ve tried everything but your child still seems withdrawn or anxious, it might be time to ask for outside help. Here at The Mayfair GP we offer a private specialist paediatric care service, and we can provide a safe space for you and your child to talk about how you and they are feeling.

We can also offer mental health screening, should you feel it is necessary. While this might seem like a scary option, it is vital to remember that mental health is just like physical health. Sometimes we have dips, but early and effective treatment can get us back on track.

Lockdown has been a tough time for many, and it is important that we don’t underestimate the toll it has taken on our family’s mental health, or that of our children.

For more information, or to book a consultation, please contact us.

As schools have gone back and a gradual return to the workplace is imminent, more and more people are conducting lateral flow Covid tests on a regular basis. And they can do this from the comfort of their own home.

So now that we are able to test ourselves, has the clinician-led PCR test become redundant? Why would we still make the journey to a testing centre if we could carry out a test ourselves and get the results in half an hour?

More sensitive tests

While the lateral flow tests are quick and convenient, they simply aren’t as sensitive as the PCR tests. They can be great for picking up asymptomatic cases, and stopping the spread that way. But if you’ve got Covid symptoms, even if your lateral flow test gives a negative result, you should have a PCR test just to make sure.

Confirmation of a positive result

Similarly, if your lateral flow test result comes back positive, whether you are symptomatic or not, you should seek confirmation through a PCR test.

Although not common, there have been cases of lateral flow tests producing a ‘false positive’ result. This is a particular risk when the test is carried out at home, rather than under supervision at school or in the workplace.

If a positive lateral flow test result is followed by a negative PCR result, this prevents the need for ten days’ isolation. So a confirmatory test is definitely worthwhile.

If, however, your PCR test result comes back positive, you and your household will need to quarantine for ten days. But you will be exempt from having to carry out anymore tests for the next 90 days – unless you develop new Covid symptoms in that time.

Making a PCR test convenient

There’s no doubt that the ability to perform the test in your own home makes lateral flow testing a very attractive option. And regular lateral flow tests will help to control the spread of the virus. The test is great at picking up on cases with the highest viral load, which are thought to be the most contagious.

But if you are symptomatic, or if your lateral flow result comes back positive, you will need to undergo a confirmatory PCR test. This can seem very unappealing. If you are feeling unwell, the last thing you want is to have to go out to a test centre and wait in line.

The Mayfair GP aims to make the PCR test process as convenient as possible. We offer a mobile service, so we can come to you to conduct the test, and then courier it to the lab in order to get the results through quickly.

We also offer testing for recent arrivals to the UK – both the mandatory day 2 and 8 testing, and the 5-day test to release scheme.

For more information or to book a PCR test at your convenience, please contact us via email at info@themayfairgp.com.