Introducing NHS stories - Doctor turns NHS workers’ Covid stories into a book in aid of charity
Entries and poems by NHS staff about their experiences of working on the
frontline during the pandemic have been turned into a book by a Doctor who works for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, to help raise money for charity.
Dr Ishani Rao, who is in her first year of training to become a GP, was due to run a clinic in the jungle in Mexico at the start of 2020. But when her travel plans were disrupted due to Covid-19 she returned to NHS trusts to work in the Accident & Emergency departments.
It was whilst she was working on the frontline at the very start of the pandemic that Dr Rao and her friend Dr George Whittaker, a Junior Clinical Fellow at the Royal Brompton Hospital, came up with the idea of documenting the experiences of NHS workers in the form of a book called ‘National Health Stories – Tales from the Frontline’.
“There were so many learning experiences and new events happening due to Covid and everybody had a different perspective on it or was being impacted differently by the virus, that we thought it would fascinating to put it down on paper,” said Dr Rao.
“We started collecting the stories in April 2020 following an appeal on Facebook and around 50 healthcare workers, such as nurses, doctors, paramedics, and receptionists working in a variety of NHS hospitals across the UK, submitted accounts, poems and diary entries providing us with around 120 pages worth of content. Some of the accounts are funny, some are sad but they are all open, honest and thought-provoking. They’ve all been anonymised and information changed in order to protect patient confidentiality.”
Dr Rao’s and Dr Whittaker’s own accounts also appear in the self-published book which is available at Just Think Eco, Waterstones and other independent booksellers. Half of the money raised through sales goes to the Covid-19 Appeal which was launched by NHS Charities Together last March. The other half covers future printing and publication costs for more editions to be produced. To date, more than 200 copies of the book have been sold.
Dr Rao added: “I am so honoured that I have been able to play a part in making NHS workers’ voices heard. I found some of the stories so funny and some so heart-warming that I cried when I first held a copy! On a personal level, I have found the whole COVID experience very difficult. Professionally I have been lucky to work with such a fantastic team during such a strange and unpredictable time and to have a job that I love! I will never forget the year 2020, and in a way, I am glad that I couldn't go to Mexico because otherwise, the book may not have happened.”