The Royal Free London has teamed up with a photographer to the stars to celebrate the heroism of its staff in a series of images released to mark the 72nd birthday of the NHS.

Award-winning photographer Frederic Aranda has photographed some of the world’s most famous people from members of the British Royal Family and politicians to Hollywood actors and musicians.

But he was so inspired by the events of recent months that he was determined to capture some of the true stars of 2020: healthcare workers who have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic both on the frontline and behind the scenes.

The result are stunning group photographs which include nurses, midwives, porters, cleaners, pharmacists, security staff, surgeons, intensive care doctors, anaesthetists, operations managers, therapists, catering staff and more.

The photos were taken on the roof of the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead – one of the first NHS hospitals to take COVID-19 patients in the UK – and outside Barnet Hospital.

Since February 2020, around 1,500 patients with COVID-19 have been treated at the Royal Free London. During that time, wards were reorganised and the trust doubled its ICU capacity.

Many staff were moved into different roles – including nurses and doctors from around the trust who were given additional training so they could work within the expanded ICUs.

Frederic specialises in taking photographs of groups of people and has worked with Vogue, Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar. 

His portfolio includes: Sir Ian McKellen, Pharrell Williams, Prince Philip, Ben Stiller, Anish Kapoor and Margaret Thatcher.

But speaking about his Royal Free London shoot, Frederic said: “These are the people we are indebted to, and this pandemic has brought that sharply into focus.  Group photographs are the perfect medium to demonstrate how many people are involved in the delivery of care – that it’s not just doctors and nurses. To be able to bring them together like this is an event in itself.

“I really wanted to make these pictures upbeat – everyone has been through so much over the past few months but I wanted the shots to be optimistic and positive.”

Caroline Clarke, Royal Free London group chief executive, said: “To have somebody as talented as Frederic, with his incredible portfolio, so willing to give his time to come in to photograph our amazing staff, shows just how their efforts have captured people’s hearts.

“These fantastic photos pay tribute to the enormous team effort that enables us to deliver such wonderful patient care. The past few months have been like nothing any of us in the NHS has ever experienced before.

“Every single member of staff at the trust should be enormously proud of what has been achieved together during the pandemic. We could not have responded so well without everybody playing their part - it’s been an immense undertaking and I can’t thank them enough for their hard work.”

Photos credited to Frederic Aranda.