Murray MacGregor – Monday 29th June 2020 – 12.01am.
A second year medical student who trained to become a 111 Call Assessor in the West Midlands after the coronavirus pandemic struck is one of just 12 NHS staff from across the country to be featured in photographs taken by celebrity photographer, Rankin.
Jack Hannay Manikum was studying at University of Birmingham when the outbreak of Covid-19 meant his course was put on hold. Wanting to maintain his learning and do something for the NHS, he was one of 1,100 people who applied for a role as a call Assessor when West Midlands Ambulance Service appealed for more staff.
Jack was among 350 additional call assessors taken on by WMAS to ensure the service continues answer calls quickly and provide a high quality service to patients who have an urgent healthcare need or need advice.
The powerful and personal portrait of Jack was taken by Rankin in a mark of respect and thanks to the NHS. The photographer, who has previously shot the Queen, Kate Moss and the Rolling Stones, offered to take portraits of 12 people across the country who are playing a vital role in the NHS response to COVID-19.
The collection, which will be showcased at local bus stops, roadside billboards as well as iconic pedestrian areas including the world-famous Piccadilly Lights in central London have been released to coincide with the 72nd anniversary of the NHS (5th July).
Rankin said: “As the coronavirus pandemic began to unfold, I was moved by the incredible efforts of people across the NHS and I wanted to document who they are and their role in fighting this disease. Taking a portrait is a unique and intimate experience, even with social distancing in place. Everyone had their own inspiring story, which to them, was just doing their job. I hope these images portray the resilience and courage they show every day in the face of real adversity.”
Jack, who hopes to resume his studies is currently working full time for the 111 service covering all of the West Midlands except Staffordshire.
He said: “It can definitely be nerve-wracking as you never know what, or from who, your next call will be. One of the most difficult calls I picked up was from a patient that had suffered a late stage miscarriage. She was extremely distressed, and I just felt like crying. But you have to be strong, so that you’re able to help. At the other end of the scale, shortly after that I answered a call from an elderly woman who wanted to know if it was okay to hang her washing out during the pandemic lockdown!
“I’m very aware that a lot of the time, I may be the first person speaking to someone who has just gone through something traumatic. A lot of our job is about asking clinical questions to get people the right type of help. Speed is of the essence, but it can definitely feel cold in the moment. Someone might be going through a severe breakdown, so you have to take your time and get on their level.
“With all of that intensity, running really helps clear my head and keeps me going. On my days off I have been doing sponsored charity runs with my medical society for NHS Charities Together. The other day we finished an eight-hour shift at the call centre and ran 26 kilometres back to the university campus! We’ve raised £23,800 so far and are now campaigning to include BAME representation in clinical teaching at Medical Schools across the country.
“It’s a massive reward when you know you’ve helped someone, especially when they thank you at the end of the call and say they’re going to pray for you. Even as doctors in training – all we want to do is help people to the best of our ability. I’m so honoured to be a part of this campaign – I just wish I hadn’t had to shave my own hair during lockdown!”
WMAS Chief Executive Anthony Marsh, added: “I am delighted that one of our staff has been chosen to be featured in these outstanding portraits. Staff within the Trust have worked so hard over the last three months during one of the most difficult periods we have ever faced.
“Hearing their stories, like Jack’s, will give the public a unique and touching insight into the lives of the people who are battling this pandemic and saving lives.”
All portraits are being donated by Rankin to the NHS as an ongoing legacy for years to come. Advertising space to display the portraits has also been donated.
The full selection of portraits and their stories can be found here: www.england.nhs.uk/rankin
As well as Jack in his role as a 111 Call Assessor, the pictures feature: a paramedic, a pharmacist, hospital porter, district nurse, midwife, critical care nurse, GP, a cleaner, an ICU consultant, an adult psychiatrist and a chief information officer.