Imperial College London

New podcast explores experiences of frontline NHS workers during COVID-19

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Astronaut Helen Sharman speaking to NHS staff Derek Yeung

Astronaut Helen Sharman speaking to Mr Derek Yeung, a surgical registrar and research fellow at Imperial

A three-part podcast highlighting poignant stories from NHS workers on the frontline of the pandemic has launched.

The series features healthcare staff sharing their experiences of adversity and perseverance with key figures, including first British astronaut Helen Sharman and professional boxer and politician Manny Pacquiao

Called ‘Hidden Strengths’, the podcast was created by PanSurg, global hub of surgeons and related professionals at Imperial College London, in recognition of the significant impact that the pandemic is having on the mental health of staff on the frontline.

The conversations address the emotional challenges and personal experiences the speakers have faced and how they overcame them.

Co-principal investigator of PanSurg, Mr James Kinross, said: “Through establishing PanSurg, we’ve been able to build an initiative for the global surgical community to share experiences, research and policies during COVID-19.

“As part of this, we felt it was extremely important to uncover the stories from our frontline workers and to share these publicly so others in the same situation, medical or beyond, feel supported and inspired.” 

Honest conversations 

The health workers taking part in the podcast are based at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust. By publicly sharing their own honest insights from the frontline, they hope to give people the courage to deal with their own difficulties.

"I hope that by sharing some of my recent experiences and coping strategies, others may be able to find comfort that they were not alone in similar situations." Derek Yeung Surgical Registrar and Research Fellow, Imperial College London and Trust

Derek Yeung is a clinical research fellow at Imperial College London and surgical registrar. He speaks to Helen Sharman OBE in the first episode of Hidden Strengths. Yeung said:

“Throughout the pandemic we have found ourselves in circumstances that have been unfamiliar, daunting and well beyond normal comfort zones. I hope that by sharing some of my recent experiences and coping strategies, others may be able to find comfort that they were not alone in similar situations.”

In another episode, listeners hear from Ralph and Brenda, a married couple who have worked in the NHS for 20 years. Ralph shares his own experiences of having COVID-19 with Manny Pacquiao.

Anaesthetist and intensive therapy unit consultant, Dr Mike O’Connor also speaks to British journalist Frank Gardener about dealing with a large intake of seriously unwell patients during the pandemic. 

Raising awareness

PanSurg hope that these stories will connect people from all walks of life who have had difficult experiences throughout the pandemic. As a group of healthcare professionals, the team wanted the podcast to create an awareness of the testing times their fellow NHS colleagues face.

Seema Yalamanchili, who helped establish the project at PanSurg said:

“Throughout the pandemic, NHS staff have had to walk uncharted territory and rapidly adapt to face this burden head on. These fascinating conversations with other inspiring figures give us an insight into what this has been like, and how they have accessed the depths of human resolve.

“There is a long road ahead for everyone, and we hope Hidden Strengths provides stories that bring us all together to do this.” 

Listen to the three episodes of Hidden Strengths below. Find out more about PanSurg here.

Hidden Strengths podcast 

Episode 1: Manny Pacquiao speaks with Ralph and Brenda, a married couple that have been working in the NHS for 20 years.

Episode 2: Helen Sharman talks to Mr Derek Yeung, a surgical registrar and research fellow at Imperial College London and Trust. 

Episode 3: Frank Gardner chats to Dr Mike O’Connor, an Anaesthetic and ITU Consultant at Northwick Park Hospital. 


About PanSurg 

Based at Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation and Department of Surgery and Cancer, PanSurg is a global hub for surgeons and related professionals to share experiences, policy, data and research for the delivery of safe, effective surgery during the pandemic. It aims to make a difference to frontline surgical care in real-time.

PanSurg is proud to work in partnership with colleagues at Imperial College Healthcare Trust and London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust.

Reporter

Nikita Rathod

Nikita Rathod
Institute of Global Health Innovation