Kate Garraway’s co-star Dr Hilary Jones details backstage talks on husband’s Covid battle

Gaby Roslin features in NHS lung cancer awareness campaign

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Dr Hilary Jones, 67, has opened up on the emotional side of covering the coronavirus pandemic on Good Morning Britain, while his co-star Kate Garraway, 53, and her family are going through turmoil due to the pandemic. Kate’s husband Derek Draper was rushed to hospital in March last year after contracting COVID-19.

He is currently free of coronavirus, but is still thought to be in a “state of minimal consciousness” after coming out of a deeper coma last year.

The virus has also left him with extensive damage to his organs.

Dr Hilary has fortunately been part of Kate’s support system, as he revealed he stays “in contact” with the mum-of-two to offer her advice.

Speaking about their behind-the-scenes conversations, alongside his support for NHS England and Public Health England’s Help Us, Help You – Lung Cancer campaign, Dr Hilary said he and his GMB co-stars really “feel for” Kate and her family.

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When quizzed on the emotional moments he has experienced while working during the pandemic, Dr Hilary exclusively told Express.co.uk: “We adhere to very strict guidelines at ITV studios, social distancing, sanitising, mask wearing, that’s very important.

“Of course Kate Garraway’s husband has been very poorly, so I’ve been in contact with her quite a bit, and everybody feels very much for her and her family.”

The general practitioner and presenter went on to say he and his colleagues have developed a “mini surgery” behind-the-scenes of the programme, as the presenters often come to him with their queries and concerns about COVID-19.

He continued: “And other people have had questions, symptoms have arisen, which haven’t generally been COVID-19, but people have been concerned.


“So it’s like a mini surgery there as well sometimes, but they’re a great bunch of journalists and they’re doing a great job. It works both ways – in times outside of the pandemic I’ve called on their help as well.

“It’s a great little team and it’s a nice family, we all get on very well and I think we do a good job with the news every morning.”

It comes after Lorraine Kelly praised Dr Hilary for his role and medical expertise on GMB back in December on her self-titled ITV show, saying: “He has been an absolute hero throughout this pandemic.

“Bringing clarity and common-sense advice with real empathy and behind-the-scenes he has been helping Kate, whose husband is currently still in hospital.

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“And all of our team and crew who have been concerned and worried about themselves and their loved ones. He is a very special man.”

Dr Hilary has also put his support behind NHS England and Public Health England’s new lung cancer awareness Help Us, Help You campaign.

The campaign launch follows new research that reveals 49 per cent of the public aren’t aware that a cough lasting three weeks or more could be a sign of cancer, while 61 per cent say that they wouldn’t make an appointment with their GP if they had this symptom, which wasn’t COVID-19. 

Speaking about the campaign, Dr Hilary said: “I think a lot of people make assumptions about symptoms and health and yes, of course, everyone’s been so focused on the pandemic for the last year that people are completely focused on that.

“But of course the other conditions, sometimes the serious ones, don’t go away – they’re still there, and every year there are 39,300 people diagnosed with lung cancer in England and the symptoms often overlap.

“So a persistent cough for more than three weeks is also a symptom of lung cancer as it is with COVID-19, so it’s important that we tell people that if it’s not COVID-19, then that’s a serious symptom that needs to be urgently investigated. 

“GP surgeries are open for business and there are Covid secure environments where you can go and be assessed and cancer treatment goes on uninterrupted, even during the pandemic. 

“I think there’s a perception at the moment that cancer treatment has all but stopped and that people are missing out. The good news is that between March and December last year, when the pandemic was raging, cancer services were maintained pretty much as normal.”

He added: “Lung cancer referrals fell a little bit, which means that people weren’t coming forward, but that’s one of the reasons that we need to reiterate that cancer services are up and running and we must not delay those people who need priority treatment for cancer.”

Visit nhs.uk/cancersymptoms for more information.

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