Hospice doctor shares her ‘Letter from Lockdown’

Photo of Dr Becky Hirst holding the book; Letters from Lockdown.

A Barnsley Hospice doctor has contributed to a book of letters about people’s experiences of Coronavirus.

Consultant in Palliative Medicine Dr Becky Hirst wrote a 500-word ‘Covid Chronicle’ for BBC Radio Four’s PM programme last year and this has now been included in a book called ‘Letters from Lockdown’.

The collection of first-hand stories from ordinary people covers a range of experiences from the every-day to life-changing, from booking a food delivery for the first time to attending a wedding on Zoom. There are stories of birth and death, loneliness and loss, community and kindness. Becky’s is amongst a number of contributions from key workers, NHS clinicians and teachers.

In her piece, she writes about her thoughts and feelings as she works alongside colleagues in the hospice, and across the NHS district, providing specialist end of life care for patients during those trying times.

Becky, who has worked at Barnsley Hospice for 11 years, said: “I listened to other peoples’ Covid Chronicles on Radio 4 on the way home from work, and felt I had an important message to get across about end of life care and the role of hospices.

“I wanted to add my voice to the national conversation because I strongly believe in the importance of palliative care. Many don’t realise how important it is until they need it for themselves or a loved one. Hospices currently rely on voluntary sector funding, but I hope the fact that so many people have been touched by bereavement over the last year may help crystalise policy makers’ thinking on how to fund our sector better.

“I also wanted to celebrate the nursing members of our senior team at Barnsley Hospice who donned uniforms and hit the floor when they were needed during the crisis.”

Hundreds of people contacted BBC Radio Four’s PM programme to share their Covid Chronicles during lockdown. Many were read on air and every one of them is now being stored in the British Library as a historic resource for future generations.

The book ‘Letters from Lockdown’ features a selection. £1 from every sale goes to Children in Need. There is also a copy to borrow in Barnsley Library.

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