Intensive Care – Gavin Francis

Published by: Wellcome Collection
Pages: 208
Date released: 07/01/2021
Date read: 23/01/2021

Gavin Francis is a GP who works in both urban and rural communities, splitting his time between Edinburgh and the islands of Orkney. When the pandemic ripped through our society he saw how it affected every walk of life: the anxious teenager, the isolated care home resident, the struggling furloughed worker and homeless ex-prisoner, all united by their vulnerability in the face of a global disaster. And he saw how the true cost of the virus was measured not just in infections, or deaths, or ITU beds, but in the consequences of the measures taken against it.

In this deeply personal account of nine months spent caring for a society in crisis, Francis will take you from rural village streets to local clinics and communal city stairways. And in telling this story, he reveals others: of loneliness and hope, illness and recovery, and of what we can achieve when we care for each other.

It was odd reading about a pandemic in the past, whilst we are still living in the pandemic in the present. At the time of writing this review, we are in lockdown #3 awaiting Boris’ imminent press conference about how we will inch our way back into normality.

Some might think living through a pandemic is stressful enough without having to read about it as well, and in a way I would agree. Having said that, it was refreshing to hear from an actual medial expect, rather than all the so-called experts on the internet. Not only did Gavin Francis see illness and death, he saw isolation and loneliness, worry and fear, depression and suicide.

The general public – a.k.a. us minions – only really see what the media tells us and what we experience in our daily lives. We don’t see what the doctors and nurses see. The people who are working day in, day out to keep us safe. Often putting their lives on the line. Some say that this is what they signed up for when they started working in the medical field, but I’m not sure I 100% agree. Yes, they signed up to help the British public with their illnesses, they didn’t sign up for 14-hour shifts, dressed head to toe in protective equipment, standing in for families when loved ones are dying alone, going to work never knowing if that is the day that they themselves succumb to the disease. Gavin presents all the truth but without the fear factor.

It’s a scary world out there, and whilst all the data is pointing in the right direction, I think it’s going to be scary for a little while yet. But I believe that there is hope and that light is at the end of the tunnel, and that light is getting a little brighter with each passing day.

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