There is no single narrative. Each person in healthcare has their own story to tell of what has happened in the past year. For some, critical moments in resuscitation loom large with the exhaustion of PPE-clad shifts. Others relive the incessant surge of sick patients, all needing attention simultaneously, with the sense of inadequacy to meet those needs.

But away from emergency and critical care other stories unfold. We remember patients, not just with COVID-19, fighting illness and disability on the wards, alone, struggling with imposed isolation, just when they needed the love of their families most. We have watched them suffer alone and die alone and we, as staff, know this is not how things should be. The clinics are silent, the waiting rooms empty, and we struggle to deliver care from a distance by telephone or video. Who knows what is happening unseen and unattended to? And we are helpless to do more, it seems. These failings in care cause us moral injury.

Clinicians have found their lives disrupted by the need to take on new roles and carry the anxiety of uncertainty about their competence. At the same time there has been the frustration of de-skilling as years of experience are laid aside to do other necessary but unfamiliar tasks. All this against a background of fear of personal contagion and,

We have watched colleagues get sick and have realised we are vulnerable. We have seen their empty desks and wondered if they will return. Successive waves have revealed our susceptibility to post-traumatic stress. A colleague unexpectedly breaks down and cries, I can’t go through it again” as intensive care switches over once more to COVID-mode. It is hard to keep the heroic response to crisis going, and we find fatigue that is deep-seated in our teams.


All the time regular life is on hold. Training is disrupted, exams rescheduled, medical and nursing education suffers, and annual leave is cancelled. Normal outlets for rest and recovery are suspended. Even church is virtual.

And what of Christians in healthcare? The Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) has been supporting nurses, doctors and students around the UK, and we find that Christians are not immune from the challenges of this epidemic. There are even additional stresses. The loss of regular church contact is felt keenly. Health professionals relocate frequently, and nurses and doctors new to an area have had difficulty finding fellowship during lockdown. This is compounded by isolation from their families and friends due to coronavirus regulations. Members have said they feel locked in a cycle of work with no fellowship. Also, as those who serve Christ, we feel the sense of failure as we have seen patients suffering and we have been unable to help.

"Successive waves have revealed our susceptibility to post-traumatic stress."

There is another side, however. We have heard of members cherishing God’s word more than ever before as circumstances have developed. We hear testimonies to God’s faithfulness and a flourishing of intimacy with Him in the storm. Members report increased prayerfulness and new opportunities to share the love of Christ. One member commented: This pandemic period has reinforced the importance of delighting in God for me.” Another spoke of being encouraged to share the faith question at work’.

Another testified: We’ve all gone into this knowing God is with us, that this assault course is taking us somewhere and there is nothing so bad that can happen that God cannot bring good out of it.” Another spoke of initial weeping but then reflected: But that moment passed, and I’ve had a quiet peace ever since. Not an illusion that everything will be okay, not a dread that it will be awful, just a quiet confidence that whatever is happening in the world, God is in it.” We hear lament but we also hear of God’s safekeeping.

As we look forward, we see the challenge that looms, a huge mountain to climb as we re-adjust to restore clinical care to pre-coronavirus levels. We have waiting lists thousands long. And everyone is weary, it seems. How will we do it? 

What then can the church do? Please pray for strength and endurance for healthcare staff you know. Pray for perseverance and exceptional stamina to take on the challenges ahead. Pray too for those who are coping with the disruption and loneliness the past year has brought. Look out for those who are carrying loss and trauma, and bear one another’s burdens. Pray especially for Christians to not just survive but to grow in grace, to shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15), showing the love of Christ in their work. Intentionally look out for those who appear online or who you might otherwise meet who are isolated or weary and welcome them as Christ has welcomed you” (Romans 15:7). And thank God – His grace is sufficient.