A close shave at the Royal Free Hospital leads to photo award

12 October 2023

A photograph showing a Royal Free Hospital patient having a haircut and shave at his hospital bedside has won a national competition to mark 75 years of the NHS.

The winning entry in the ‘Our NHS at 75’ photo competition was submitted in the partners category which celebrates the crucial role partnerships play in delivering the best possible care for NHS patients.

Entitled ‘Paul and Flo’, the picture captures the caring interaction between Flo Blackett, a freelance hairdresser funded by the Royal Free Charity to visit patients weekly, and patient Paul Lederman.

Many older in-patients have been in hospital for several weeks and may be unable to wash their hair or shave. Flo visits wards once a week, providing a cut and wash service and nail filing and sometimes helping patients with more complex needs.

Entries were judged by a star-studded panel including Chief Nursing Officer for England, Dame Ruth May, This Morning’s resident GP Dr Ellie, award-winning journalist Victoria Macdonald, eminent photographer Lewis Khan, Dr Habib Naqvi MBE and Fujifilm’s Theo Georghiades.

“I hadn’t been aware that there was such a service available until Flo came along on the ward. I had been in hospital for a while, so it had been about two months since my previous haircut. I also hadn’t been shaving while I was in hospital. It was very nicely done and it felt very refreshing.” – Paul

Jenny Brodie, content marketing manager at the Royal Free Charity, took the winning photograph.

Jenny said: “I was shadowing Flo to get some photos because we started funding her role relatively recently and we wanted to let people know about it. As an NHS charity, it’s important that we let our supporters know about the impact of their donations.

“I’m really proud that the photo was chosen. I’m very grateful to the Royal Free Charity for giving me this opportunity to help. It means a lot to the patients. It helps them to feel themselves again and to have pride in their appearance.” – Flo

“I didn’t have a particular shot in mind, I just wanted to capture an authentic interaction between Flo and the patients she was helping. I stayed in the background documenting what was going on.

“It’s been amazing to see all the everyday special moments across the NHS that have captured though this competition.”

“I think the image captures something special that we often hear from patients about the services we provide: for a brief time, they aren’t defined by their illness or condition. For those few moments, they are simply themselves.” – Jenny

‘Paul and Flo’ will be on display along with the other category winners at the NHS 75th anniversary service at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday 5 July.

The 75 shortlisted and winning photographs form an exhibition at Fujifilm House of Photography in Covent Garden, London and will be open to public viewing from 5 July until the end of August.