A nurse originally from Shrewsbury, but now in London, has published her first book about her experiences as a palliative care nurse and being on the frontline during the Covid crisis.
Kelly Critcher (formerly Phillips) was born and grew up in Shrewsbury, but now works in London, her new book describes her experiences of palliative care nursing over her career and how life changed as the pandemic took hold. She decided to keep a diary of her daily life working in the hospital which she has colligated into her book titled “A Matter of Life & Death”.
Daughter and granddaughter of nurses, Kelly Critcher qualified in 2007 and went into Acute Medicine. Following a moving encounter with a dying patient, she moved into palliative care.
Everything changed for nurses on the NHS front line last year. Working on Covid wards and the High Dependency Unit, Kelly spent the height of the coronavirus crisis at Northwick Park hospital – perhaps the UK hospital most deeply ravaged by the illness.
Kelly said: “I love being a palliative care nurse, getting to be a part of someone’s life at the most challenging of times can be a true privilege and really fascinating. I had started to write the book a few years ago and when Covid came along, the hospital where I worked was hit hard and so I kept a diary throughout. My experience in both acute and palliative care were invaluable during the pandemic in one of the UK’s worst hit hospitals. “
“I felt scared”
In March 2020, as Covid-19 took hold, Kelly used her years of experience as a volunteer in the hospital’s High Dependency Unit, seeing the best and worst of the crisis first-hand.
She explained: “It was a low-level panic at first, but very quickly there were big changes taking place. Day by day, wards were being cleared to make way for Covid-positive patients. Things were getting worse by the day. For the first time in my nursing career, I felt scared.”
She, and many others like her, battled tirelessly and were pushed to breaking point, delivering the bad news and fighting the good fight, day-in, day-out, throughout the gravest test our health service has faced since its inception.
Kelly’s story weaves together her raw, emotional diaries from the COVID frontline with a broader reflection on the truths about a life spent caught between battling for her patients’ lives and helping them face down death with courage and compassion.
“A Matter of Life & Death” by Kelly Critcher is released on 29th April by John Blake Publishing.