Michael Rosen says Thank You to NHS staff

Sara Gorton and Michael Rosen on a Teams call

“I now have a chance to say thank you to you, you UNISON workers, you have made your contribution to the fact that I’m actually sitting here talking. Thank you very much indeed.”

That was poet and author Michael Rosen’s message to the NHS staff that joined last week’s An Evening With… webinar.

The former children’s laureate was interviewed by UNISON head of health Sara Gorton about his time in hospital with Covid,

Michael is still feeling the effects of Covid, including bad eyes, ears and fits of dizziness but now feels quite strong.

He read sections from his new book covering the experience, Many Different Kinds of Love: A story of life, death and the NHS.

“I’m getting it, that there’s a place between life and death. I was there for weeks,” explains one passage.

Addressing NHS workers directly he said that despite the metaphors about angels, “you are all workers and this is work.”

“Every encounter that I can remember is personal, mucking around with the phrase ‘you were very poorly’ but they said it sympathetically.”

He ended with a reading of These are the Hands, the poem he wrote to thank the whole healthcare team on the 60th birthday of the NHS.

These are the hands
That touch us first
Feel your head
Find the pulse
And make your bed.

These are the hands
That tap your back
Test the skin
Hold your arm
Wheel the bin
Change the bulb
Fix the drip
Pour the jug
Replace your hip.

These are the hands
That fill the bath
Mop the floor
Flick the switch
Soothe the sore
Burn the swabs
Give us a jab
Throw out sharps
Design the lab.

And these are the hands
That stop the leaks
Empty the pan
Wipe the pipes
Carry the can
Clamp the veins
Make the cast
Log the dose
And touch us last.