The Latest Hubabaloo

A touchy subject

Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth

This week I returned to my university city for the first time since collecting my things from my halls in July. The experience of travelling to move to another city is always pretty fraught, but the idea of moving away from the comfort (and often frustration) of my home with my parents into a new home with a new housemate At This Time made me feel a little more than the usual jitters that accompany change.

While I was trying to unpick why I was feeling so nervous, I happened to hear an episode of All in the Mind. The presenter Claudia Hammond was discussing the results of a national survey into our attitudes to touch, the Touch Test, which happened to close to entries just at the beginning of lockdown. How prescient the survey seems now! As I listened, I realised part of my anxiety about travelling from the relative safety of my home bubble was linked to this fear of touch – how many objects are you required to touch in the process of moving 200 miles from one home to another? How many more opportunities for pathogens to breach the safety of the bubbles you have created – both real and imagined?

During the programme, contributors described both the experience of feeling starved of touch and the relief of touch being currently off the cards. While I fall into the former category – I am desperate to return to a life where the beginning and end of hanging out time with friends is marked with a casual hug – I was intrigued to hear the experience of another contributor who mentioned that for her, light touch induces an almost burning, unbearable sensation in her skin, whereas firmer touch was bearable. She mentioned that a nurse stroking her arm in hospital was like the sting of a nettle. As well as being a timely reminder that touch in clinical context requires consent, this contributors testimony highlighted that the pandemic requires us all to behave as if skin to skin contact would indeed burn like a nettle’s sting – to touch anything or anyone is to risk infection. The infection risk of touch has of course always been a concern in clinical settings, but pre-corona, this risk was balanced with the acknowledgement that for many people, touch serves an important role in the therapeutic encounter, both as an important diagnostic tool, but also in and of itself. Indeed, the healing nature of touch feels like a universal truth, stories of its power are embedded into art and culture, and literary and religious texts.

We talk often about being visual creatures – but I would contend that we’re also contact creatures; many, if not most of us, require the right kind of touch in order to connect and bond with each other. This is something we understand and vital for developing babies, but it might be something that for adults we had forgotten or taken for granted, even as the research shows that many people who lead touch-free lives experience higher levels of loneliness and mental distress. As we move indoors for a covid winter and restrictions tighten across the country, our retreat further into a sterile, screen-medicated existence continues apace and our fear of the danger of touch grows. Right now, we need to keep our distance. When the pandemic is over, I hope it won’t take too long to overcome our fear of infection and reclaim the part of ourselves that needs to reach out and touch.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stalk Us

Weekly Newsletter

Sign up to our fortnightly newsletter for updates, news and competitions.

Join Study Hub as an


Open to all students & doctors who are keen on teaching.

Clinical & Communication skills teaching & demonstrations

OSCE prep & examining mocks

Clinical knowledge / case based teaching

SBA Based Revision sessions
Feel free to suggest anything else you would like to teach!

Upcoming Sessions

Newsletter Subscription

It’s the BEST way to stay up to date with everything we’re doing. Expect session timetables, news, deep dives and competitions delivered fortnightly!

Live Session Help

Sorry to hear you’re having issues getting into the session. We don’t want any of our hublings to miss out on the fantastic information that’s being shared.

Please try these steps:
1. Try clearing your browser cache (Ctrl + F5/ CMD + Shift + R) .
2. Try opening the page in an incognito/private window.
3. Audio issues on Apple products: Please ensure ringer volume is on when connecting to computer audio.
4. If none of these work please use the zoom link below to access the session for now and please fill out feedback form on this page explaining what happened after the session so we can improve.

Click Here to Join Via Zoom

Meeting Passcode: 0

Shop Coming Soon!

We’re working hard behind the scenes to create the best range of products for you. Expect everything from scrubs to stationary availible to purchase this Christmas!

Coming Soon!

Our platform wants to centralise resources. Addressing all your needs as a student…

To achieve this we need your help! Please share with us any resources you find useful, and feel other healthcare students should be aware of. Share as many as you possibly can.

Please include a link to the website where the resource can be accessed, and a brief description of why you are recommending we include it in our resource section.
These can be resources for study, or more supportive resources e.g. But it can also be links to good sites to access cheaper equipment needed as a student e.g. Or even places that do awesome student discounts… 

In other words share with us all the awesome things you wished were shared with you much earlier than they were!


Coming Soon!

Our platform wants to recognise healthcare professionals are humans too!

To achieve this we want to provide support in all areas, not just your revision – from meal prepping to revision techniques to mindfulness! This October we will be joining forces with some incredible people and organisations to name drop a few:

Mindful Medic






The founders of BiteMedicine

Tom Watchman founder of Zero to Finals

If you feel you have something to contribute to this section, please get in touch with our collaboration team.

Coming Soon!

Our platform wants to become a supportive community!

To achieve this, we want to work with students and professionals who have developed their own study materials they wish to share with the wider community! On 28th September this section will go live and will give you access to all the materials that have been shared with us. Currently we are compiling resources provided by St Georges University of London’s finest, the BNOCs:
  • Ramzan Bilal
  • Matt Anson
  • Rap the top 100
By 28th September we hope to have materials provided from more contributors from universities across the UK. If you feel you have something to contribute to this section get in touch with our collaboration team.

When sharing your materials with us, we want to make it clear that you retain all intellectual property rights and receive full recognition the work is yours!