News posted 29 June, 2020

MFT Critical Care Nurse photographed by Rankin for NHS birthday portrait collection

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Powerful portraits of Critical Care Nurse, Emma Kelly at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) who has served on the NHS frontline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, has been captured by acclaimed photographer Rankin, as part of collection unveiled today to celebrate the NHS anniversary.

Emma Kelly, Critical Care Nurse at Manchester Royal Infirmary, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Emma Kelly, Critical Care Nurse at Manchester Royal Infirmary, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Emma Kelly was selected to be photographed for the collection, which will be showcased at local bus stops, roadside billboards as well as iconic pedestrian areas including the world-famous Piccadilly Lights in central London this week to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.

In a mark of respect and thanks to the NHS, the renowned photographer, who has previously shot the Rolling Stones, Kate Moss and the Queen, offered to take portraits of 12 people across the country playing a vital role in the NHS response to COVID-19.

Alongside her portrait, Emma shared her own personal story from the frontline, providing a unique and touching insight into the lives of the people who are at the forefront of the pandemic and saving lives. Emma’s story is detailed below;

About two weeks ago, I had the hardest day of my career so far. One of my patients deteriorated rapidly and a decision was made to switch to end of life care. The patient was a COVID-19 case which meant family visits were restricted. Sitting there holding her hand and relaying messages from her family is something that will stay with me forever. At one point, I had to run upstairs to compose myself. Five minutes later I knew I had to get back to the ward as I had another very sick patient whose relatives were only able to briefly visit. I sat with them, held their hand and kept telling them how much their family loved them.

“I originally started training in Australia before returning to England to finish. Nothing makes me prouder than working for the NHS and providing healthcare to everyone. Having lived abroad and seeing how other healthcare systems work, I know there is nothing in the world like this.  

“Our amazing team has grown even bigger with nurses from other specialisms who have been deployed to help us. It means we’ve also taken on a more supportive role as we know this environment can be very daunting and we want to be there for them. We are so thankful for their help and couldn’t have done it without them.

“It can be really difficult going home after a hard shift. Running has been a good release, and a really good way to reflect. I am very close to my family too and have been speaking to my parents a few times a day in lockdown. However, its music that’s one of my biggest loves – especially Ibiza classics which remind me of freer times holidaying on the island. I love bonding with patients over music as well, a patient recently asked me if I could play some Rod Stewart, so we put on a playlist and listened together on the computer. Afterwards he said, ‘Thank you so much, you don’t know how much that means to me’. Moments like that make this job so special.”

British photographer, director and cultural provocateur, Rankin, said, “As the coronavirus pandemic began to unfold, I was moved by the incredible efforts of people across the NHS and I wanted to document who they are and their role in fighting this disease. Taking a portrait is a unique and intimate experience, even with social distancing in place. Everyone had their own inspiring story which to them was just doing their job. I hope these images portray the resilience and courage they show every day in the face of real adversity.”

Emma Kelly, Critical Care Nurse at the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said: “At first, I thought it must be the wrong Emma as I feel like I’m just doing the job I’ve been trained to do. While all of us who work for the NHS do the job because we want to care for and support our patients – it is lovely to be recognised in this way and to be able to share our stories with the world.”

Group Chief Nurse, Professor Cheryl Lenney at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said: “As we celebrate the international Year of the Nurse and Midwife, Emma and colleagues like her nationwide are a credit to the nursing profession. We are immensely proud that the skills, teamwork and dedication of all our MFT nurses have played a key role in the response to the pandemic.”

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, said: “This has been the most challenging year in the NHS’s history, with our amazing staff providing care to almost 100,000 hospitalised Covid patients, and many more in the community. Nurses, doctors, physios, pharmacists, cleaners and countless others have pulled together, bolstered by thousands of former NHS staff who came back to help, alongside a new generation of students who stepped up. As we approach the NHS’s anniversary, these striking portraits pay tribute to all NHS staff and their extraordinary dedication. On July 5th we also want to say thank you to those from all walks of life who have played their part in helping the NHS and our communities deal with this unprecedented health emergency.”

All participants have been photographed unhidden by PPE to reveal the people behind the masks and celebrate the individuals they are. All portraits are being donated by Rankin to the NHS as an ongoing legacy for years to come. Advertising space to display the portraits has also been donated.

The full selection of portraits and their stories can be found here.