Dr Dipesh Gopal
Meet Dr Dipesh Gopal, GP and NIHR In-Practice Fellow in General Practice, from the Institute of Population Health Sciences.
I split my time between clinical work as a general practitioner (GP) and researcher in cancer care and survivorship. My research looks into supporting those who are living with the long-effects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Some people do suffer from physical effects such as fatigue and psycho-social effects such as fear of cancer recurrence and isolation. Others cannot return to work and suffer from poverty, termed ‘financial toxicity’. After being discharged from hospital treatment, many patients are in the community and have unmet needs; my research aims to meet this unmet need.
For me, it’s really important to challenge things in medicine that are not scientifically sound. Last year, I read one of the chapters of Angela Saini’s book “Superior: the rise of race science” that critiqued the NICE blood pressure treatment guidelines which involved race. There was worry that people with Afro-Caribbean heritage would not respond to a certain kind of blood pressure medication called ACE inhibitors. In the clinic, I knew that whilst we did not give ACE inhibitors as a first line for high blood pressure, there definitely was a response in people with Afro-Caribbean heritage when given for other conditions such as diabetes. Looking at the evidence of this in review articles, the concept of race as a determinant of treatment options did not seem scientifically sound. When it comes to speaking out about racism, as a first generation immigrant from an ethnic minority, whilst my parents’ generation were happy with surviving, it is my duty to ensure that my generation can thrive. When you look at racial disparities in our healthcare system and health outcomes, it is important to speak out so that we educate people and can go about solving these disparities both in the profession but also in society.
You're active on Twitter and have talked about using it to present the results of research trials. You also prescribe podcasts to your patients. Do you think there is a younger generation of doctors who are using technology to enhance/ inform their practice?
Yes I do think that there is a younger generation of doctors but they are very much in the minority especially on social media platforms. For me there is lots of research, job and networking opportunities but like everything it requires an investment of time. There are emerging groups of doctors who have their own social media platforms to help challenge myths around healthcare and this has been especially valuable during the pandemic with regards to transmission. It has been incredibly heartening to see busy colleagues dedicate time to educate the public about the coronavirus vaccine. I do think online content including podcasts and apps are not used enough in healthcare to help educate the public. However, it is important to appreciate that digital technology is not available to all.