Viking has landed an inside story of Covid-19 and the NHS from Dr Jim Down, a consultant in critical care and anaesthesia at University College London Hospital (UCLH), in a two-book deal.
UK and Commonwealth rights were acquired by editorial director Tom Killingbeck from Georgia Garrett at RCW. First book Life Support: Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the Covid Crisis will be published by Viking in hardback on 4th March 2021.
Down chairs his hospital's ICU consultants' group, its department of anaesthesia weekly scientific meetings, and the UCLH Trust guideline committee. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he has been on a new full-time, full-shift clinical rota for ICU, and was appointed trust lead for Ethics. Earlier this year, he was interviewed by Fergus Walsh for two features on BBC News about UCLH’s response to the pandemic, and was also the subject of a long read in the New Statesman.
Life Support is billed as “a powerful, moving account of an intensive care doctor's life on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic”. The synopsis explains: “In Life Support, he tells the extraordinary month-by-month story of how as the nation came to a standstill, he and his colleagues donned PPE, received an unprecedented influx of patients, transformed their hospital and ultimately faced down the biggest challenge in the history of the NHS.”
Killingbeck said: “Although he would cringe at me saying it, Jim is one of the true heroes of the pandemic. Running the ICU at University College Hospital, he has fought Covid-19 on a daily basis this year. He’s also a beautiful line-by-line writer, who has captured the month-by-month action on the frontline in startling, vivid prose, full of compassion and warmth. A year on from the first wave, this book will show people how it felt to be on the wards before, during and after the height of the crisis, with stories of his unforgettable patients, the incredible courage shown by his colleagues, and the extraordinary decisions he had to make in the face of seemingly impossible odds. If you only read one Covid-19 book next year, it should be this one.”
Down added: “I am so grateful to find, in Tom Killingbeck and Viking, the perfect home for this book. In April our ICU tripled in size, filled with the sickest, most unpredictable patients we’ve ever seen. This is the story of how they, their relatives and the staff responded to this unprecedented crisis.”
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