Lest we forget: a frontline snapshot

by Seren Boyd

A consultant and talented photographer is capturing these extraordinary times for posterity

Location: UK
Published: Monday 22 March 2021
ray mcfadden

There has been no such thing as normal on the COVID front line recently. Rotas, roles and routines were jettisoned to meet the tidal wave head on.

For a time, at The Royal Bournemouth Hospital almost everyone was redeployed.

Surgeons proned COVID patients on ventilators, consultants did tea rounds and bed baths, military personnel mucked in. Cruise-liner staff on furlough administered hand sanitiser and face masks at the entrance.

And, for consultant gastroenterologist Raymond McCrudden, it’s been important to capture this extraordinary moment – to record for posterity what the NHS has gone through and what its people are made of.

Watch a video compilation of images taken at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, narrated by Dr McCrudden

At the peak of the second wave, hospital managers asked Dr McCrudden, a keen photographer, to take up his Nikon.

In snatched moments after work and on his days off, Dr McCrudden documented it all: the teamwork and frustration, the compassion, grief and exhaustion, the mundane and the mortuary.

‘Even before this second wave, the workforce were on their knees,’ says Dr McCrudden. ‘People outside need to know that the people I work with are inspirational…

‘When I asked colleagues if I could come and take photos, they said, “We want you to cover this”. ‘This is a moment in history and we need to record it.’ 

ray mcfadden 4 Senior porter Ian Dudley makes another visit to the mortuary for COVID patients. Some weekends, the death toll exceeded the mortuary’s capacity and appropriate temporary storage had to be found
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ray mcfadden 5 Intensive care consultant Emma King phones a family to let them know their son’s condition has deteriorated and he requires transfer to ITU for intubation and ventilation
ray mcfadden 3 Doctors tend to a patient following an overdose, as the pandemic takes its toll on people’s mental health
ray mcfadden 7 Consultant urologist Luke Hanna makes his rounds on the urology ward: first an early-morning surgical ward round, then the afternoon tea round
ray mcfadden 2 A patient in his twenties who has had to be resuscitated and intubated in the emergency department is transferred to ITU, via the CT scanner
ray mcfadden 6 When the orthopaedic theatres become an extension of ITU for COVID patients on ventilators, orthopaedic surgeons are redeployed to take on proning rotas