Intensive Care

A GP, a Community and COVID-19

Book cover featuring a black and orange illustration and white text. The illustration shows a series of illuminated windows with the silhouettes of the people inside.

On the pandemic’s forgotten front lines, a doctor cares for his community – from care homes to homeless shelters, islands to the inner city.

‘Intensive Care’ is about how coronavirus emerged, spread across the world and changed all of our lives for ever. But it’s not, perhaps, the story you expect. 

Gavin Francis is a GP who works in both urban and rural communities, splitting his time between Edinburgh and the islands of Orkney. When the pandemic ripped through our society, he saw how it affected every walk of life: the anxious teenager, the isolated care-home resident, the struggling furloughed worker and homeless ex-prisoner, all united by their vulnerability in the face of a global disaster. And he saw how the true cost of the virus was measured not just in infections, or deaths, or ITU beds, but in the consequences of the measures taken against it. 

In this deeply personal account of nine months spent caring for a society in crisis, Francis will take you from rural village streets to local clinics and communal city stairways. And in telling this story, he reveals others: of loneliness and hope, illness and recovery, and of what we can achieve when we care for each other.

Read an extract from ‘Intensive Care’, and watch a recording of an event with Gavin Francis that explores what it means to be a doctor caring for a society in crisis during a pandemic.

Date published
208 pages
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About the author

Photograph of Gavin Francis

Gavin Francis

Gavin Francis has worked across four continents as a surgeon, emergency physician, medical officer with the British Antarctic Survey and latterly as a GP; he has described the pandemic response of 2020 as the most intense period of his 20-year career in medicine. He’s the author of the Sunday Times bestseller ‘Adventures in Human Being’, which was a BMA Book of the Year, and ‘Shapeshifters’. His books have won the SMIT Scottish Book of the Year Award, the Saltire Award for Non-Fiction and been shortlisted for the Ondaatje and Costa Prizes. He also writes for the Guardian, The Times, the London Review of Books and Granta. He lives in Edinburgh with his wife and children.