APRIL:

JANE TOVEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL ILLUSTRATORS

It is in times like these we realise just how privileged we are to work for the NHS, be that directly or indirectly; to see, hear and join in with the 8pm clapping event in recognition of the work of so many, is both a proud and emotional moment.

The medical illustration profession can so often be seen as a luxury service, and many services have faced, and continue to face, both staff and budget cuts; perhaps now those cuts will be regretted, even viewed as short-sighted, as the demands for our services grow in these unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a massive rise in requests for information posters, leaflets, and online publications, for staff, visitors and patients. Our skills in design and video production have been called upon to produce educational material in the shortest of deadlines, tackling the core issues of hand-washing and the donning and doffing of personal protective equipment.

Much of our clinical photography work is focussed around outpatients, with specialities such as dermatology and ophthalmology reliant on our diagnostic service. In some areas, urgent cases are still presenting, and inpatients continue to be photographed, but COVID-19 has left us with spare capacity. Across the nation, our photographers have altered their daily practice, from producing highly standardised and scientifically accurate records of medical conditions, to documenting the changes happening in our hospitals, through creative photography of the NHS workforce, many on the COVID-19 frontline.

We continue to be a valuable resource to our various employers, perhaps because we are familiar with every aspect of the hospitals we work in, or because we know the staff and are knowledgeable in infection control and health and safety measures and can be reassigned elsewhere.

No matter our role, whether that is keeping safe through self-isolation, contributing remotely through home-working,  or working in the frontline, our profession, represented by the Institute of Medical Illustrators, has so much to contribute; and indeed, our many members believe it is a privilege to do so. And whichever sector of the healthcare scientist community you belong to, you too will be making a huge contribution, and should be saluted and applauded at every opportunity.

Stay safe.