Research, policy and impact: Covid-19

NHS Voices of Covid-19 is working in partnership with the British Library to create a national collection of personal testimonies to capture the social significance of the pandemic. Our research is funded by the UKRI Covid-19 Urgency Call through the Arts and Humanities Research Council and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Since March 2020 we have interviewed over 500 frontline NHS staff, clinical leaders, policymakers and patients across the UK about the impact of Covid-19 on their personal and working lives and wider communities. The interviews capture over 1000 hours of recordings.

Oral history gives agency to interviewees to shape the form and meaning of the interview and thus captures personal experiences alongside sense-making and reflection on the narrative that is being shared.



In 2020 we responded to the Health Foundation's call for evidence submissions for their Covid-19 Impact Enquiry Exploring the pandemic's implications for health and health inequalities.

(Click here to discover their report and analysis in full)


From initial analysis of our emerging research we identified key policy challenges including:

• Addressing the cumulative physical and mental stress of NHS staff in the context of significant workforce shortages that could limit NHS’ ability to respond to future waves of Covid-19, successfully address the backlog of work, and/or prepare for future crises.

• Supporting bereaved families who have not been able benefit from normal support. 

• Mitigating the poorer health outcomes which may be exacerbated by future waves of the pandemic causing the NHS to suspend services and patients to delay seeking treatment.

• Addressing the disproportionate impact on BAME communities within the context of the longer histories of racism and discrimination within the NHS.

Read our submission in full in the Health Foundation's Covid-19 Impact Enquiry Evidence Library here


Illustration of rainbow using dots

In 2020 we submitted emerging research from our project to the British Academy in a response to their call for evidence on 'Covid-19 and Society: Shaping the Covid decade'.


Their final report [ ] included our evidence, in particular testimony from NHS and frontline healthcare staff focusing on the impact covid-19 was having on their physical and mental health. 

‘I don’t think most people realise the conditions people have to work in … I don’t think people realise what it really is like, it is hellish … things will go back, people will forget. And I keep taking photos … the other day I just took a picture of my scrubs, completely sodden with sweat, I just did that because it’s so surreal. I’ve never, I’ve never worked in such conditions’.

You can read our full submission in the reports evidence library here:

Stephanie J Snow, Jolanta Shields, Angela Whitecross, Evidence submitted to the British Academy’s enquiry into the longterm societal effects and impacts of Covid-19, December 2020. 


Illustration of a medical cross using dots

In August 2021 our director, Professor Stephanie Snow was invited to give evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus. Stephanie's contribution was based on analysis of oral history testimonies from NHS and healthcare staff.


🗣 Stephanie Snow: “We have to understand that the current state of the NHS is not simply the impact of an unprecedented global health pandemic. It's about the pre-pandemic structural and cultural issues that were evident in the NHS before 2020.”

— APPG on Coronavirus (@AppgCoronavirus) August 24, 2021

🗣 Stephanie Snow: “The creation of a hero narrative was actually very difficult for NHS staff, they felt that they didn't want to be looked upon as heroes when they weren't being protected by PPE equipment, or weren't being given a reasonable pay increase”

— APPG on Coronavirus (@AppgCoronavirus) August 24, 2021

🗣 Stephanie Snow: “NHS staff have a history of coping, but it's what the impact of that coping will be on the emotional and physical health of staff.”

— APPG on Coronavirus (@AppgCoronavirus) August 24, 2021

🗣 Stephanie Snow: “In order to cope with this, one of the things that needs to be put out there is what are the expectations of staff, to make those reasonable, within the limitations of under resourcing & staff health generally”

— APPG on Coronavirus (@AppgCoronavirus) August 24, 2021

In June 2021 we were delighted to be the winners of the emerging impact research category in our Social Responsibility 2021 Making a Difference Awards.

The award recognises our work creating a national collection of personal testimonies on Covid-19 and the NHS. This research captures the complex social dimensions of the pandemic, helping to develop policy briefings which will inform practice and influence change in health policy and beyond.

Our director, Professor Stephanie Snow spoke of winning the award: “Winning this award has been a huge boost for our team and all the volunteers, participants and stakeholders who support the project and have been working so hard throughout the pandemic. There are so many terrific examples of excellent work across the University that it feels incredibly special to be recognised in this way.”

Watch our short film produced as part of the awards here.

Read more on the Faculty of Biology Medicine and Health blog here.

Image showing Stephanie and Lemm Sisay for the Making a difference awards ceremony