POEMS: These are the Hands

All proceeds from the sale of this recent publication go to the NHS, particularly apposite during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Wendy-Jane Walton first told me about this book at our FOPL AGM in February.

One of her poems had been selected for inclusion alongside the work of other health workers and  nationally celebrated poets. The publication coincides with the World Health Organisation designating 2020 as ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwife’. The chapter in the anthology Nursing the Nation gives a voice to nursing staff at all stages of their career and several poems in the book touch on the current crisis in nursing recruitment and retention, but the collection is more than that. As Michael Rosen says it’s ‘The very heart of who we are and what we are here for.’ You can you buy the anthology, with all proceeds going to the NHS for £9.99 from:

  • Fair Acre Press https://fairacrepress.co.uk/shop/these-are-the-hands-poems-from-the-heart-of-the-nhs/
  • or by searching on Amazon

An NHS Poetry Anthology introduced by Wendy-Jane Walton

Published 21st March 2020 (World Poetry Day)

Here’s Wendy-Jane to introduce These Are the Hands and read two of the poems, including her own.



‘A wonderful anthology to celebrate the NHS, which is itself the best poem a country has ever written’  – Stephen Fry

’This is a beautiful book: heartfelt and intimate’  – Adam Kay

 ‘Every ward and waiting room should have a copy’  – Simon Armitage

This anthology offers a unique insight into the real experiences of the people at the heart of the NHS – from the student nurse at the start of his career to the heart surgeon on the eve of her retirement. We also hear the stories of those whose vital work is often unseen and unsung from domestic cleaning staff to sign language interpreters.

The poems offer unflinchingly honest and intimate accounts from the people who care for us from the moment of birth to the end of life.  Above all these poems are about our shared humanity. They are about the compassion and care that lie at the heart of the NHS and in all our lives. They also serve as a stark reminder of the human cost of trying to offer compassionate care in a system that is underfunded and understaffed and the importance of showing the same compassion and support to the staff we depend on to hold the NHS together.

Leading UK poets have donated poems to this anthology including Michael Rosen, Roger McGough, Lemn Sissay, Sabrina Mahfouz, Kate Clanchy, Sam Guglani, Charly Cox, Molly Case,  Wendy Cope and the estates of UA Fanthorpe, Dannie Abse and Julia Darling.

All proceeds from this book will go to NHS Charities Together which supports over 135 official NHS Charities raising money for NHS hospitals, ambulance services, community and mental health services across the UK.

About the Editors:  Deborah Alma is a UK poet who teaches Creative Writing at Keele University and also Emergency Poet prescribing poetry from her vintage ambulance. She co-founded the world’s first walk-in Poetry Pharmacy in Shropshire with her partner the poet James Sheard featured on the BBC and Sky TV. Dr Katie Amiel is a GP working in Hackney, London and member of the Royal College of General Practioners’ Well-being Committee.

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