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Pharmacist’s COVID vaccination snap wins NHS photography award

Dr Wasim Baqir’s picture of used COVID vaccine vials has won an award celebrating 75 years of the NHS.

At the end of clinic hours on Christmas Eve 2020, over 1,000 health and care staff at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust had received COVID vaccinations.

Clinical pharmacist Dr Wasim Baqir, who was supporting his local NHS Trust’s vaccination efforts, noticed the spent vials from the day in an orange sharps bin and on the “spur of the moment” decided to photograph them before they were sent to be destroyed, he told C+D.

This week (July 3), Dr Baqir’s striking spontaneous photograph was celebrated as one of five winners of a national photography competition for NHS staff and volunteers held to mark 75 years of the health service, run by NHS England (NHSE) in partnership with Fujifilm.

 

“Excited and honoured”

 

Dr Baqir, who works for NHSE’s Pharmacy Integration Team and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust and “likes to dabble” in photography, told C+D today (July 5) that he was “really excited and honoured to have been selected”.

“The picture was the culmination of a team effort so it’s for everyone, not just me,” he said.

Dr Baqir told C+D that the photo was taken when he was part of a multidisciplinary team of nurses, pharmacists, doctors, other care staff and volunteers who were running a COVID vaccination clinic for health and care staff, one of many across the UK.

Read more: Podcast – Pharmacists after Hours Ep.4: The underwater photography enthusiast

“We were rapidly trying to vaccinate as many people as possible”, he said, doing “our small bit” as part of the national programme.

Dr Baqir said that the photo shows empty vaccine vials, ready to be consigned to waste, at “the last part…of a complex journey”.

That journey included “vaccine discovery and production, logistics of supplying and storing a fragile product, the mobilisation of the health and care staff and volunteers”, as well as the work done “to tackle vaccine hesitancy”.

Dr Baqir won the innovation category, facing off competition from hundreds of other healthcare photographers and chosen from a shortlist of 75 photos.

 

NHS turns 75

 

Announcing the winners, NHSE said that his photograph – titled “the solution” - illustrates the NHS’s “mammoth effort to deliver the vaccination programme”.

The winning photographs will be displayed at the NHS 75th anniversary service at Westminster Abbey, today (July 5).

All 75 shortlisted images will be exhibited at the FUJIFILM House of Photography in Covent Garden, London, also from today - the NHS’s 75th birthday - and on the competition website.

Read more: Pharmacist Ade Williams photographed by Rankin in NHS England campaign

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said that the competition was “the perfect opportunity for our incredible staff and volunteers to give a snapshot of life in the NHS, 75 years on from its inception”, adding that the photographs “provide fantastic insight into life in our remarkable NHS.”

Tom Watanabe, managing director for Fujifilm UK, said that the exhibition will give the public “a unique opportunity to see what happens behind the scenes in our health service every day”.

“It is a fitting way to mark 75 years of the NHS,” he added.

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