Publish date: 08 July 2020

As photographer Tom Pilston searched for a way to make his contribution during the Covid-19 pandemic, he cast around for a project which would allow him to pay tribute to the NHS he describes as "all that is good about the UK ... humane and caring, hard-working, sensitive and strong".


So he came to UCLH and shot just over 100 portraits over two days at University College Hospital. This photo essay in Tortoise Media is his simple yet powerful way of reflecting on the toll of the pandemic, but also celebrating the NHS with a series of “proud, sensitive and authentic portraits”.

Tom was keen to capture as many different staff disciplines as possible, and his focus was not only staff who were working directly with Covid-19 patients but also staff keeping the rest of our emergency services going, and those who have adapted to helping out in new working environments outside their usual practice and comfort zone. The collection of portraits also captures staff who work for our close partners such as UCL and Interserve; we are extremely grateful to them for their continuous support.

“We were all coming out of our homes every Thursday night to applaud these people we felt were our heroes. I wanted to meet them, to look into their eyes, to see who they really were and express what this experience has meant to them,” says Tom.