Covid pain becomes a museum matter

The experiences of Covid-19 patients are to be the subject of a special exhibition, based on oral testimony.

The Anaesthesia Museum in Portland Place, central London, the heritage centre for the Association of Anaesthetics, is appealing to sufferers during the coronavirus pandemic to come forward with their stories.

This year anaesthetists have been treating critically ill patients all over the world, and their work is now being recognised as never before, with the association collecting material to give a new perspective on the role of anaesthesia in battling the virus. 

“This is a significant moment in the history of anaesthesia” said Caroline Hamson, the association’s heritage manager. “The pandemic has brought the role of the anaesthetist to the attention of the general public. Anaesthetists have been on the frontline treating critically ill patients, and we want to speak to people treated by them. The patient story is often an untold aspect of medical history and capturing these personal recollections will allow us to tell the story of the pandemic to current and future visitors and researchers. At all times, our interviews and contemporary collecting around this subject will be done with sensitivity and respect.” 

As well as personal testimonies the museum is collecting objects related to the pandemic to add to its large collection of equipment and drugs related to the history of ventilation and intubation, expanding to include contemporary examples from the pandemic to present the full, accurate story of this aspect of anaesthesia.

“During the last global pandemic 100 years ago the speciality of anaesthesia was still in its infancy and played no significant part in the reposnse to ‘Spanish flu’” said Kathleen Ferguson, herself a consultant anaesthetist, is president of the Association of Anaesthetists and chair of  ts heritage committee. “In 2020, modern anaesthesia and critical care have offered hope to millions of people living with the fear of contracting a serious Covid-19 infection. With current patient insights, anaesthetists can work to ensure future care is even better and more reponsive to patient needs.”

Interviews are likely to begin in the autumn via Zoom when the museum is able to re-open. Those interested in taking part should email Caroline Hamson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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