Get to know the 1 World Medical founders
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, many frontline NHS workers are reporting concerning shortages in the supply of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), that is needed to protect staff from contracting the virus. As the situation becomes increasingly challenging, two NHS frontline doctors are stepping up to help bolster government supplies of PPE. Dr Anu Patel and Mr Sanjay Purkayastha, based in London, have joined forces to establish ‘1 World Medical’.
As medics working in the NHS, they were directly impacted by the shortages of PPE, the ambitions of 1 World Medical are very close the hearts of both its founders. So far, the virus has disproportionately affected individuals from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds – as members of those groups, the threat for Anu and Sanjay has been all the more prominent. And sure enough, soon after coronavirus hit the UK, both of the doctors, along with their families, were infected with suspected COVID-19.
MR SANJAY PURKAYASTHA
Mr Sanjay Purkayastha is currently a Consultant General at St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, part of Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust. He is a trauma, upper-gastrointestinal and bariatric surgeon, and a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Surgery at Imperial College London. He came to St Mary’s in 1994 as a first-year medical student and has served the NHS through disasters such as the Ladbroke Grove rail crash in 1999, the 7/7 London terrorist bombings, and the Grenfell Tower fire. Throughout his career, Sanjay has made ground-breaking surgical advancements. In 2014, Sanjay was the first surgeon in the UK to carry out robotic bariatric surgery, and five years later, he was the first to drive digital innovation in machine learning and artificial intelligence systems, in real time in the operating room. Ahead of co-founding 1 World Medical, Mr Purkayastha also jointly set up PanSurg.org, a global hub for surgeons and related healthcare professionals to share experiences, policy, data and research for the delivery of safe, effective surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through 1 World Medical, Sanjay’s vision to make a difference to frontline care is expanding.
What inspired you to found 1 World Medical?
“My wife caught COVID-19 at the begging of the pandemic. For both of us to be unable to do our jobs at a time of crisis and need was very difficult. I was particularly badly hit, with a dangerously high fever and uncontrollable rigors and for the first time ever was not able to get out of bed for several days and was off work for 2 weeks, which again was a first for me in the 20 years since I qualified. It was a horrific time for us and our children, and unfortunately one that we can trace directly to the lack of PPE at work. My wife is a consultant nephrologist who usually looks after immunosuppressed transplant patients; instead, whilst she was ill herself, she looked after me at home like I was in the hospital and her management kept me out of hospital.”
What has the crisis taught you?
“I love my job and would very much prefer to just continue to do what I do. But I can’t stand by and see my entire team at the hospital, and extraordinary and dedicated professionals across London and the UK, in such a difficult position. We have experts and suppliers waiting for our orders, and desperate to help. The response so far has been amazing, and deeply heartening. If this crisis has taught us anything, it is that our force for contesting chaos is kindness, connection and refusing to give up.”
DR ANU PATEL
Dr Anu Patel is an NHS GP in South London working in Lambeth, Wandsworth and Kingston CCG catchment areas. He is also a digital health expert, consultant and entrepreneur. Dr Patel qualified from Guy’s, King’s & St Thomas’ (GKT) Medical School in 2000. He undertook further training as a surgeon in London (Teaching Hospitals) at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospitals, Hammersmith Hospitals, and St Bartholomew’s and The Royal London Hospitals, going on to work and teach across a number of surgical disciplines. In those roles, Dr Patel served the NHS through major incidents such as the Chancery Lane tube derailment in 2002 and the terror attacks on 7 July 2005. In a change of specialism, Dr Patel qualified as a GP, working in the NHS in Lambeth & Tower Hamlets. Further to a special interest and learned expertise in digital health and holistic care, he has provided consultancy to start-ups and established companies in the direct to consumer and traditional healthcare space. Through One World Medical, Anu has combined his medical expertise and desire to serve, with his entrepreneurial, business and leadership experience.
What inspired you to start 1 World Medical?
“As a doctor personally affected by COVID-19, I am working for all key workers we’re on a mission to deliver PPE to the frontline rapidly. Sanjay and I are also driven to spearhead the way forward on smart PPE, so that we waste less and use PPE resources more sustainabily – which will have an impact, not only on today, but on potential further waves of COVID-19 and future pandemics. We have built 1 World Medical on our values as clinicians, and are dedicated to deliver what is needed, from medic to medic – but not forgetting the breadth of roles in need of this equipment, beyond medical staff.”
How did you and Mr Purkayastha build out the business?
“As digital health entrepreneurs this project is no exception to the application of our technological expertise. 1 World Medical offers a bespoke technology-based approach that encompasses end-to-end tracking of each delivery and online functions for inventory control, monitoring & re-ordering. All PPE acquired via this route is quality-certified with thorough checks happening at both ends and they have a particular interests in locally manufactured and sustainable, reusable, renewable sources of PPE and alternative technologies.”
Giving back is at the heart of 1 World Medical, what pro bono projects have your team delivered?
1 World Medical has already secured hundreds of thousands of items of high standard PPE for NHS trusts by utilising our global network. Most recently, this has also included donations from a number of well-known fashion brands, including ASOS and Burberry, who re-deployed their factories to manufacture PPE.
Where do you see the need for key worker PPE being greatest going forward?
The requirement for PPE extends beyond the hospital setting, with wider needs in GP surgeries, pharmacies, hospices, district nursing and care homes. NHS staff working in local community settings such as these are also key workers at risk of contracting COVID-19 if they do not have the proper PPE to keep them safe. And as the crisis continues and PPE becomes part of our everyday life there is need for PPE solutions in the following industries; transport, hospitality, sport, entertainment, education and retail. Each one of us, each day needing PPE to protect ourselves and those around us.