One of the doctors behind a TV singalong tomorrow night to celebrate the NHS anniversary revealed she is inspired by a little girl who was kept in isolation on a hospital ward.
Dr Katie Rodgerson, 34, a driving force behind the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS choir’s Christmas No1 two years ago, has rounded up celebrities to sing with NHS heroes to try to conquer the charts again.
Paediatrician Katie is motivated by a young patient who contracted a superbug and had to be kept in isolation for months.
Katie says: “I was looking after a little girl who never got out of her room, even when all the other kids were allowed home.
“One of the other doctors told her I had a single in the charts. She used to get really excited when I sang in her room.
“Sadly, she passed away just before the single went to No1. I’ve never forgotten her.”
When Katie and colleague Joe Blunden achieved their ambition with their Christmas 2015 hit they did not stop to congratulate themselves.
Instead they asked each other: “What next?”
When they looked around at the growing gloom among their colleagues, they decided to do something to boost morale. Katie says: “Our colleagues were collapsing in tears on shifts. Rota holes are now getting dangerous.
“Yet still NHS workers come in early to write letters to help a family, which isn’t part of their job. They stay late, consistently working through breaks to help people.
“Last weekend I was having problems trying to help a baby and other doctors who were meant to be off arrived on the ward to help. The NHS is critically underfunded. Its workers need thanks and some hope.
“We see that in patients who are dying: when they’ve lost hope we’ve lost them. But I also know that when you hand back a resuscitated baby to a family, knowing they may not be alive had you not been there, you get a lift in your chest. A feeling that something really good has happened.
“But that feeling is dwindling as the pressure keeps piling up. And we want people to keep hold of that feeling and keep working for the NHS.”
Katie and Joe approached Sir Paul McCartney for permission to use the Beatles song With a Little Help from My Friends.
Stars including Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Jessie J, Seal, Blue, Rick Astley, Myleene Klass, Tony Hadley and the Mirror’s Coleen Nolan have been keen to join in. Engelbert Humperdinck sent a Skype recording, Dame Vera Lynn added her voice to the campaign and illustrator Sir Quentin Blake designed the single cover. Ashley Banjo is choirmaster.
Joe, who works in hospital communications, says: “Dr Katie and I wanted to do something that makes workers feel happy, not despondent. We’re trying to help them stay motivated because they are the backbone of the NHS and keeping it going.”
- You can watch the Big NHS Singalong Live on ITV tomorrow night at 9pm.
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