Life Support

Life Support

Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the Covid Crisis


'Deeply affecting - a personal memoir that grips, harrows, inspires and, ultimately, uplifts with its vein of deep humanity' Philippe Sands'

An extraordinarily frank book laced with humour and self-deprecation' The Times

As a doctor on the intensive care unit at one of London's top hospitals, Jim Down has spent his life working as healthcare's last resort, where each day reveals a new challenge. But nothing could prepare Jim and his colleagues for the events of spring 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic put them on the frontline of a global health crisis.

In Life Support, Jim tells the extraordinary month-by-month story of how, as the world came to a standstill, he and his co-workers faced down the biggest challenge in the history of the NHS. Full of warmth, honesty and humour, this book is a gripping and moving testament to the everyday heroism of the NHS staff in a global emergency, and an unforgettable insight into what was really happening on the wards as we clapped on our doorsteps.


  • 'Remarkable... humane and deeply moving, Jim's book questions the future of healthcare in Britain'
    Daily Mail

About the author

Jim Down

Dr Jim Down is a consultant in critical care and anaesthesia based in London. He chairs the ICU consultants' group, the department of anaesthesia weekly scientific meetings and the UCLH Trust guideline committee. During the Covid-19 pandemic he worked on UCLH's busy ICU ward, and was interviewed by the BBC for a groundbreaking report depicting medics on the frontline. His account of that period, Life Support, was published in 2021 and his second book, Life in the Balance, was published in 2023.
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