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Our National Health Stories

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of 19 hospital trusts across England participating in a major national project to celebrate staff stories through the arts as part of NHS 75.

Our National Health Stories starts with a programme of creative story gathering across all trusts in summer 2023 - giving staff to the opportunity to tell their stories through creative activities and using poetry, dance, music and art to reflect their experiences.

These stories will be curated into an extraordinary national performance for staff, developed by Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah and his creative team.

Our National Health Stories

The performance will take place in November 2023 in all 19 trusts, starting at one and passing on to another like the Olympic Torch, as the story spreads across the country, ending in a grand finale bringing all elements together. The event will be live streamed for everyone to enjoy.

We have already begun gathering stories and have an exciting programme ahead led by Artlink and funded by Oxford Hospitals Charity.

Tell us your story

Artists and writers at all our sites will be ready to listen to and gather your stories.

We want to hear what...

  • was your best or worst day at work?
  • day did love come into your work place?
  • stories should not be left untold?
  • are the rituals you always perform at work?
  • would you tell your younger self about this job?
  • do you want your older self to carry with them?
  • was your first day like - the weather, smells, sounds or any people you met?

Come and meet the artists and writers leading creative activities for staff on all hospital sites on Wednesday 5 July 2023 and tell your stories through images and words - or email your story direct to us.

Ruth Charity:

Left Arm or Right?

Naive stitched scene of two healthcare workers with patients in vaccination cubicles

In 2021 an artwork was commissioned to celebrate the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme and recognise the staff who played a vital role in this work.

This included staff from Estates, Procurement, Digital Services, Pharmacy and the Patient Contact Centre, alongside clinical staff across the Trust.

Left Arm or Right? (pictured in the banner image on this page) is a 'Bayeux Tapestry' of the vaccination programme journey, telling the story from lockdown in 2020 through to the end of 2021.

It has been created by stitching artist Harriet Riddell and comprises one large main piece stitched onto nursing uniforms and 10 smaller portraits of staff in different roles.

Harriet's Research

In early 2021 Harriet brought her sketchbook and sewing machine into the vaccination centres at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM) and at the Horton General Hospital, to document the process of vaccinating staff and patients.

In many of her sketches she incorporated words gathered from conversations between staff administering the vaccinations and those getting their vaccine, stitching directly onto face masks in some cases.

Behind the Numbers

The artwork is accompanied by a poem, Behind the Numbers by Trust Poet Beth Calverley, co-created with staff involved in the vaccination programme, giving an insight into their work.

Where to see the artwork

The original stitched artwork is installed in the entrance of the John Radcliffe Hospital. Prints of the artwork are installed in the corridor to the Horton General Hospital Restaurant, outside the Restaurant at the Churchill General Hospital, in the atrium of the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and on levels 1 and 3 of the Trust’s offices in OUH Cowley.

All are accompanied by a selection of stitched portraits, a text panel and copy of the poem.

The project has been developed by Artlink, the Trust's arts programme and funded by Oxford Hospitals Charity.

Last reviewed:03 July 2023