NHS staff and patients implore public to follow rules in powerful COVID-19 campaign

Doctors, nurses, and seriously ill coronavirus patients are making an emotional appeal for people to stay at home in a comms campaign launched by the Government.

Campaign posters from the latest Government campaign urging people to stay at home
Campaign posters from the latest Government campaign urging people to stay at home

A film created by Freuds features close-up views of hospital staff and sick patients staring into the camera and pleading for people to follow the Government’s guidance.

It reveals the emotional and physical toll that COVID-19 is taking on medical teams and the people they care for, in an attempt to stress the importance of staying at home to help stop the spread of the virus.

Hospital staff and patients from Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, Surrey, and patients from St George’s Hospital in London took part in the film.

One of those featured, Katrina Mason, a clinical matron in an emergency department, says: “The number of COVID patients is definitely going up. It’s heart-breaking… the worst time was four deaths in two hours.”

She adds: “Please do as we’re asked – wash your hands, wear your masks, keep a safe distance apart. And please, please do not go out unless you have to. If we don’t do these things, people will continue to die.”

Dr Anil Rajashekar, consultant in emergency medicine, says: We are seeing every day patients dying right in front of us… we are doing everything to try and save them.”

And Mohammed, a patient wearing an oxygen mask, gasps: “Twelve days I’ve been here, my breath is still not coming back.”

Another who appears in the awareness film, Dr Dominic Moor, consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care medicine, says: “It’s atrocious. The worst any of us have ever seen.” He adds: “Stay at home. Please, stay at home.”

Powerful message

The film has been released to support a Government advertising campaign, which kicked off with a hard-hitting TV spot that aired on ITV and Channel 4 last Friday.

This showed the exhausted faces of silent NHS staff and patients, with a voiceover saying: “Look them in the eyes and tell them you’re doing all you can to stop the spread of COVID-19. Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.”

The new activity was prompted by a surge in deaths – with an official toll of 1,000 people a day having died from the disease in the 10 days before the campaign launched.

It was reported last week that a new coronavirus patient is admitted to hospital every 30 seconds, and a quarter of those are under the age of 55.

Freuds, MullenLowe, OmniGOV, MMC and 23red have worked on the campaign, which encompasses PR, TV, radio, print, digital and social advertising.

Letting the cameras in

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are going through the biggest national health emergency that many of us will see during our lifetime. COVID-19 is serious, lives are at risk and the pressure the NHS is under to provide care is real. Our staff, and other NHS staff across the country, are working around the clock to provide vital care for those with COVID-19 and other health conditions.”

She added: “We are pleading with the public to stay at home in order to look after each other and support our NHS staff so we can ultimately all play a part in saving lives. We hope that by having a film crew in here to hear how much pressure our hospital and staff are under, the public will get an understanding of what happens here every day. The threat is very real to us all.”

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