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Doctor’s photographs document critical care unit colleagues’ ‘life-saving’ work

Dr Matthew Jones’s images capture the strain staff at a hospital in Middlesbrough have been working under during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Dr Matthew Jones recorded what was happening in the critical care unit at the James Cook University Hospital (Matthew Jones/PA)

Dr Matthew Jones recorded what was happening in the critical care unit at the James Cook University Hospital (Matthew Jones/PA)

Dr Matthew Jones recorded what was happening in the critical care unit at the James Cook University Hospital (Matthew Jones/PA)

An acute medicine doctor who worked on the front line with colleagues in his hospital’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic has captured a gallery of photographs showing their “courage” and “commitment”.

Dr Matthew Jones’s images depict the strain fellow doctors and nurses at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough have been working under since the outbreak spread, wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

He decided to document what was happening in the critical care unit, having worked in South Sudan in 2018 where he used photography to understand the experience of working in an environment where things happened so quickly.

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Staff at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough (Matthew Jones/PA)

Staff at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough (Matthew Jones/PA)

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Staff at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough (Matthew Jones/PA)

He said: “It gave a means to pause and reflect and find answers, and continues to do so even now.

“I wanted to offer that simple resource to staff in intensive care at James Cook, so they could process events and move forward with a sense of what they had achieved.

“The atmosphere in the intensive care unit was amazing.

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The images depict the strain doctors and nurses were under (Matthew Jones/PA)

The images depict the strain doctors and nurses were under (Matthew Jones/PA)

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The images depict the strain doctors and nurses were under (Matthew Jones/PA)

“You sensed the strong bonds that existed between them all, a real spirit of care for each other’s welfare.

“I think the photos do a little justice to the stresses and pressure of the environment, but also the immense humanity on display as staff made such an effort to build bonds with the patients despite the obstacles they faced.

“To spend the time they did in personal protective equipment and in such heightened stress and emotion was an incredible effort, and to do so with humour, good spirit and such team spirit even more so.”

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The photos also show the ‘immense humanity’ staff displayed, the doctor said (Matthew Jones/PA)

The photos also show the ‘immense humanity’ staff displayed, the doctor said (Matthew Jones/PA)

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The photos also show the ‘immense humanity’ staff displayed, the doctor said (Matthew Jones/PA)

Some of the images he took are on display in the hospital, while others have been shown on a website created with his colleague, intensive care consultant Dr Alex Scott.

The centrepiece is a montage of images, depicting a heart in the middle.

Dr Scott said: “Work took place by necessity behind closed doors, night and day, whilst wearing personal protective equipment in high heat and hard exertion, to deliver life-saving interventions to a group of patients on the edge between life and death.

“Through all this time, conditions in the units were too dangerous for relatives to be admitted to visit their loved ones, so whilst performing the most technical and complex care, this team gave the kindness needed to both the patients and their loved ones.

“This project stands in honour to all those staff who have committed their lives to caring, and had the courage to do so at personal risk in the worst crisis of modern times, and also in tribute to our patients.”

The images can be seen at www.careinacrisis.org.

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