The sight of the sun peeping through the clouds this week has stirred up thoughts about lights at the end of tunnels, and although we hardly dare to hope, that (and a taste of better weather) is exactly what we need just now.
‘Hope’ is the very last word in a new book I’ve been working on which comes out at the end of April. Called ‘A Matter Of Life And Death’, the book is authored by Kelly Critcher, a senior nurse working with a palliative care team in a busy north London hospital – a place that was to become very busy indeed last March.
Kelly and her hospital colleagues, plus the NHS as a whole, have needed every last vestige of hope over the past 12 months, and are still crossing fingers, toes, everything, in the hope that this deadly virus never returns in such force again.
‘A Matter of Life And Death’ is a story of the pandemic, but it’s far from the whole story of this book. Kelly’s experiences as a senior member of the palliative care team are discussed in detail; for many, the very word ‘palliative’ means ‘death sentence’ but Kelly shows us that this isn’t necessarily the case and that it also means ‘living well’ with an illness that may limit life.
The speed of events last year ran parallel to this book’s development. Kelly contacted me in late autumn 2019, describing her work in palliative care. I found this interesting, but it was the case that there are already a couple of books out there on the same subject (albeit written by doctors, not a nurse). When Covid struck, and Kelly’s role in the hospital became broader and more frontline, I tried a couple of publishers and there was genuine interest in what would turn out to be the biggest challenge to our entire way of life for many decades.
Throughout, Kelly’s account of what happened before Covid-19, and at the height of the pandemic, is clear, honest and compelling. If you haven’t given the NHS enough of your admiration yet, you’d do well to read Kelly’s book and see for yourself what it really means to be an ordinary person in the most extraordinary of times that most of us have ever lived through.