4 members of the critical care team at The Christie have joined a 100 strong Zoom choir made up of ICU (intensive care unit) staff releasing a re-make of classic Police track ‘Every Breath You Take’ in a bid to secure the Christmas number one spot. 

Known as the ICU Liberty Singers, the choir began life as an attempt to bring some fun and respite to ICU workers after the toughest year in history amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Choir members include ICU staff such as nurses, doctors and allied health professionals who have been working on the frontline of healthcare, including the four members of the team from The Christie’s critical care unit. 

Working on the basis that music and singing are immensely relaxing for the mind, the choir was organised by the national Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine to provide support for staff who have been through a difficult period. 

Dr Vidya Kasipandian, Clinical Director for Inpatient Services and Consultant in Critical Care and Anaesthesia at The Christie, is one of The Christie team who signed up for the choir. Dr Kasipandian, who lives in Wilmslow, said: “This year has been incredibly challenging for the critical care team at The Christie, and when I heard about the choir, I thought it would be something fun for us to get involved with to give us an emotional boost. 

“We thought it would be a few Zoom performances, but it has somehow snowballed, gathered momentum and now we’re going for Christmas number one which is just marvellous. It has been a delight to be involved with critical care and ICU colleagues across the country on this project and we will all be listening into the charts over Christmas to see if we’ve made it.” 

The other Christie singers are critical care ward manager Kerry Millington, and critical care physios Rachel Eldred and Seema Rahman. 

Kerry Millington, who lives in Congleton and is critical care ward manager, said: “I’ve never been a singer, but I have loved doing the song and was delighted to be involved in such a fun project. It has been nice to get together with colleagues nationally, who have been in a similar situation to us this year, so we all understand the difficulties we have been through providing critical care during the pandemic.” 

Kerry will be working this Christmas Day and will be joining a drive to get the song playing throughout hospitals on December 25. She added: “I can’t tune into Top of the Pops, but I’ll make sure the song is certainly played in our unit, to remind us all what we have been through this year.” 

Critical care unit physiotherapist, Rachel Eldred, from Marple Bridge, said: “At the moment, I think we’re all feeling the stress of an incredibly difficult year. The choir sounded like great fun and I jumped at the chance and its now the best hour of the working week. It’s a wonderful way to spread some joy through this horrible time.” 

Seema Rahman, also a critical care unit physiotherapist, from Disley, said: “I loved every single minute of being part of the choir. I’m famously tone deaf but that hasn’t stopped me joining in. It has been a hard year and this has helped provide some welcome relief from the stress of working in critical care through the pandemic.” 

Choir Director Kari Olsen Porthouse said “Singing is immensely powerful for helping establish and maintain good mental health – but something really special happens when we sing together and the effect is even more powerful.  There is a sense of belonging, and a sense of a team working to deliver something beautiful.  That perfectly captures the strength and teamwork of ICU staff this year and the chance to give them something back and recognise their phenomenal efforts is a privilege”. 

A re-worded version of the Police hit ‘Every Breath You Take’ to express the extraordinary contribution of ICU workers across the country this year has now been produced with the choir coming together via Zoom. The single is released on Friday December 18 and will be available for download and streaming through the usual channels. In the meantime, a video can be viewed on YouTube

The 100 strong choir includes ICU staff from every region and ‘met’ for the first time, on Zoom, on November 25. Since then, legal permission was granted by SONY ATV, which owns the rights to Every Breath You Take (I’ll Be Watching You) and the opportunity to release the song took shape. The track comprises 223 individual vocal recordings sung by the choir members, recorded in their own homes and then blended to create a ‘virtual choir’.  

Alison Pittard, Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care said: “This has been such a fun way to recognise and thank ICU staff.  It has been an utterly extraordinary year and I am beyond proud and grateful to all ICU workers for their skill, dedication and professionalism in the face of unprecedented circumstances.  Marking this in as public a way as possible seemed only appropriate.” 

All money raised will go to create a fund, managed through the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, to provide support for staff that they feel will have a positive impact on their wellbeing and mental health. 

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust was the first specialist trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ twice (in 2016 and 2018) by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It referred to The Christie as ‘a leader in cancer care’ and ‘a pioneer in developing innovative solutions to cancer care.’ The CQC praised the Trust’s staff which it said ‘go the extra mile to meet the needs of patients and their families’ and that they were ‘exceptionally kind and caring.’ In 2017, the CQC rated The Christie as the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top three trusts overall in England.