Thursday 14 January 2021

These are the hands



I have been listening to the BBC recording ‘The Covid Ward’, which includes an interview with Michael Rosen and the staff of Whittington Hospital Intensive Care Unit. He was in the ICU there for seven weeks after contracting Covid-19.

This is what he said, “When we created the NHS we created something beautiful. We found a way of caring for each other that is, at the same time, anonymous and incredibly intimate. I don’t know these folks, but they know me. You know my intimate details. You do all those things that we as parents do. You saved me and you didn’t know me. I’ll be forever grateful.”

As someone who has been a patient at the Whittington and with experience of ICU, his words and those of the ICU staff choke me up and leave me more than ever determined to fight for our NHS and defeat the profiteers who wouldn’t understand the concept of care, until perhaps they too find themelves needing it.

Members of the Whittington ICU interviewed included Dr Maria Goddard, Prof Hugh Montgomery, Dr Amanda McCaskill, charge nurse Ali Aladin and Nurse Jo Eardly.


Here is Michael Rosen’s “These are the Hands” composed for the 60th birthday of the NHS.

These are the hands
That touch us first
Feel your head
Find the pulse
And make your bed.

These are the hands
That tap your back
Test the skin
Hold your arm
Wheel the bin
Change the bulb
Fix the drip
Pour the jug
Replace your hip.

These are the hands
That fill the bath
Mop the floor
Flick the switch
Soothe the sore
Burn the swabs
Give us a jab
Throw out sharps
Design the lab.

And these are the hands
That stop the leaks
Empty the pan
Wipe the pipes
Carry the can
Clamp the veins
Make the cast
Log the dose
And touch us last.