Posts Tagged ‘covid-19’

Media Network: Forget about Covid. PA Media’s Science Correspondent Nina Massey on her changing priorities post pandemic

Posted on: April 12th, 2022 by Tomas White

How to land science-led coverage with PA Media

James Rollinson and Jaber Mohamed sat down with PA Media’s Science Correspondent Nina Massey to chat about the stories she’s looking to write over the coming months.

How much are you still writing about Covid and the Pandemic?

Unless the science is new, I am not really writing much about Covid. I think at this stage a lot is known about Covid as a disease. Honestly, I’m looking forward to writing about all the other science stories that may not have been covered over the last two years.

What sort of sciences stories are you interested in?

The stories that work best at PA are the ones that are relevant to real people. The ones where people are impacted in potentially both good and bad ways. But at PA, the science remit is broad and I can cover a very wide range of topics – everything from space and dinosaurs to climate change and medicines.

Now that the pandemic is over, how do you want companies to engage with you?

I’m really keen to meet people in-person and get back to live events. I want companies to show me the science behind their work rather than just tell me about it. I don’t mind travelling to visit organisations if they’ve got something interesting to show me. Seeing something for yourself always helps to bring the story to life a little.

Are you interested in exclusive stories?

Yes, PA is always interested in exclusive stories – we are always trying to tell new and interesting stories. And the best thing about giving us an exclusive is that it will go to all media organisations at both national and regional level.

The inside line on Times Deputy Business Editor Graham Ruddick’s move to Substack

MHP Mischief’s Alan Tovey spoke to Graham about the switch

Times Deputy Business Editor Graham Ruddick hopes to reach under-served markets with his move to Substack, the subscriber newsletter, where he will be writing “Off To Lunch“.

Ruddick told MHP Mischief his daily newsletter, which could start appearing as soon as next week, will cover “what really matters in business, finance, markets, venture capital, tech and crypto”.

He aims to exploit what he sees as a gap in the market, with traditional publications’ coverage of certain areas – specifically the digital economy and venture capitalism – failing to connect with younger audiences.

His switch to Substack, which allows journalists to charge subscribers directly with the platform taking a cut, opens up a new avenue to place stories that might not find a home in established publications.

Substack’s writers are unfiltered by normal structures of commissioning and editors, giving them the freedom to write about anything they want – and hope that there is demand for it.

After weeks of dominating the business pages, the war in Ukraine has now been overtaken by the cost-of-living crisis according to analysis by Pete Lambie

ITN staff nerves over mooted privatisation of Channel 4

Writes Charlotte Grant former ITN presenter and now broadcast consultant at MHP Mischief

The most divisive story of the week was the Government confirming it wants to privatise Channel 4. Presenters including Kirstie Allsopp, Anneka Rice and Monty Don all lined up to criticise the move.

Ministers insist it will free up the broadcaster to compete with streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon. Others argue that Channel 4’s less commercial output like drama, news and current affairs will suffer.

ITV is reported to have already voiced an interest in buying the channel.  Key to any sale being voted through by MPs, will be editorial independence and funding of news being ringfenced.

For staff at ITN-run Channel 4 News, it’s an unsettling time. A source told us “there is concern over the continued uncertainty, C4 News has seen a lot of change over the past few months and this isn’t ideal timing – but management and C4 bosses are keen to keep chatting about the ongoing process and any potential impact on the newsroom.”

What do we expect to see on TalkTV?

Abigail Smith

MHP Mischief attended a preview event for the launch of TalkTV this week. News UK’s new TV channel launches in two weeks, but what has it learnt from the successes and shortcomings of GB News?

At the event producers promised to deliver high-quality, balanced journalism – aiming to poach an audience that spans from the Times, FT and WSJ through to The Sun and Daily Mail.

With a USP of delivering content in a new way, producers want to see Piers Morgan boxing Mike Tyson, and playing tennis with Emma Raducanu, whilst still competing as a news heavyweight with a team of credible journalists behind it. Guest panels will feature heavily and news will be ‘straight,’ not coming from an ideological standpoint.

Producers will be on the look out for guests and stories from the get go, so brands should be already thinking about what they can offer that appeals to TalkTV’s diverse intended audience.

Explainer videos generate record engagement

Nick Collins

“Explainer” videos about the war in Ukraine are receiving record-breaking engagement from online audiences with one recent video on the reasons behind the Russian invasion attracting 15 million views across all platforms, Press Gazette reports.

It follows the success of the BBC’s Ros Atkins, who has won a vast online audience through his series of explainers on issues ranging from UK politics to the Ukraine war.

After a period in which many news organisations have focused their growth strategy on opinion content fronted by star columnists, the success of fact-based explainer content demonstrates that online audiences are increasingly searching for reliable information as well as opinion.

Businesses developing thought leadership strategies or launching products in contested spaces should consider explainer content as a means of informing and engaging their audiences, as part of their content packages.

Movers and Shakers

Channel 5: Dan Walker is leaving the BBC Breakfast sofa to replace Sian Williams (another former Breakfast presenter) at Channel 5 News. He will anchor their flagship news show as well as other programmes across the channel.

Channel 4 News: After the departure of Jon Snow last year, C4 News have finally revealed their presenting line up for their flagship evening show. Krishnan Guru-Murphy will be the main anchor from their London studios, while Cathy Newman takes on the investigations brief alongside her presenting duties. Europe Editor Matt Frei will be the main foreign presenter and Jackie Long will continue presenting alongside her role as Social Affairs Editor.

Daily Telegraph: After five years covering finance, this week Lucy Burton started her new role as employment editor. Her new beat focuses on the evolving world of work and will include a weekly column. She has also said that she is not looking to cover survey based stories.

Reporting the pandemic and beyond – dispatches from MHP Mischief’s Health Media Roundtable

Posted on: September 23rd, 2021 by Tomas White

Never has the role of the health journalist been so important in deciphering, interpreting, conveying, and interrogating the news. The past 18 months has seen a raft of seismic events in health news: a global pandemic; a health service in crisis; the development and rollout of a vaccine; sweeping reforms to health policy…and health journalists have been integral in explaining what it all means to the average person on the street.

It was in this context that the MHP Mischief Health team was thrilled to convene a panel of the country’s leading journalists, spanning print, online and broadcast.  Hugh Pym (BBC News), Ashish Joshi (Sky News), Kat Lay (The Times) and Stephen Adams (Mail on Sunday) provided open and insightful commentary of their experiences of pandemic reporting and their broader predictions for future health media trends, in a conversation chaired by MHP Mischief Health Associate Director and former press officer at the Department of Health and Social Care, Jaber Mohamed.

Catch up on highlights from the discussion below:

Striking the balance – reporting during a pandemic

The panel candidly admitted that the enormity of COVID-19 could not have been predicted when murmurings of a novel coronavirus in the Far East were first being mentioned in early 2020.  Indeed, in the initial days when the crisis reached the UK, the panellists said that the general sense of ‘chaos’ was exacerbated by difficulties around access to sites and officials and the sourcing of robust data.

A persistent challenge media faced in telling the story(ies) of the pandemic was how to strike the right balance of reporting fact, holding truth to power, and interpreting vast quantities of data, all whilst recognising the human grief that was sitting at the heart.  Not to mention the very real personal health risk they ran in seeking the story, for themselves and the people they lived with.  This balancing act continues, with panellists explaining the need to constantly find fresh angles and satiate the public’s appetite to be informed about the pandemic as it lurches from phase to phase.

Doing more with science, data and research

A positive that emerged from pandemic reporting for our panellists has been how data – always essential in the craft of a health reporter, but often a difficult ‘sell’ to an editor – is now in demand and integral to the telling of any story.  This transformation mirrors Government communications during the pandemic, with the appearance of graphs, dashboards and infographics becoming commonplace on television screens and newsprint on a daily, if not hourly basis, presented by scientists previously unknown to the public but are now trusted household names.  People now ‘get’ and want to be told about science and the researchers and innovators who are behind it.  The previous assumption that audiences would somehow be ‘turned off’ by intimidating stats and dry research has proven not to always be the case.  In a piece of advice to the gathered communications professionals in the audience, if the story can be pitched blending the right use of data plus what it means on a human level, it’ll have a higher chance of success.

Pharma’s halo – is it beginning to fade?

It was recognised that the pharmaceutical industry’s reputation received a huge boost in how it handled the pandemic, from its repurposing of existing medicines to treat COVID-19 symptoms, to its role in bringing a suite of vaccines to the public, and many elements of support and innovation in between.  Underpinning these efforts was the industry’s outstanding collaborative work with partners like Government, NHS, small biotechs and universities.  The panel noted, however, a risk that this ‘halo effect’ could be beginning to fade, as perceptions grow that commercial imperatives might be taking over, in addition to a lack of transparency around dealings with governments and medicines regulators across the world.  MHP Health’s Maddy Farnworth recently blogged about this subject in more detail.

What’s on the news agenda?

Our panel agreed that, despite occasional moments when the pandemic news cycle seems to abate, the story will continue to dominate their agenda for the foreseeable future.  The persistent threat of COVID-19, what health system recovery looks like, health inequalities and the mental health consequences of lockdown are all story permutations which look likely to come to the fore.

COVID-19, and its subsequent impact on other conditions, such as drops in diagnosis rates for cancer,may dominate, but other health stories need to be told, not least the major organisational changes that the NHS will undergo as part of the Government’s NHS Health and Social Care Bill.  The panel was honest in explaining that their willingness to cover something ‘other’ than the pandemic will go in peaks and troughs.  A piece of practical advice was to try and get a sense of the mood of the newsroom – either through assessing the wider context of the news cycle or picking up the phone to media contacts – to see whether a story was likely to land amidst the swirl of pandemic stories, or whether it could provide ‘relief’ from COVID-19 news.  Despite the turbulence caused by the pandemic, the panel stressed that a good story – whether COVID-19 related or otherwise – which had the core elements of novelty, a sense of scale, robust evidence and a human element would always be of interest.

For our panel and their peers, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an all-consuming challenge like no other.  The interest and scrutiny in health stories and the demands placed on how they are told has increased exponentially, and with no end in sight, it has never been a more interesting time to be part of it.

Scientists are polarising the public

Posted on: August 31st, 2021 by Tomas White

In response to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UK government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, wrote:

“The IPCC report is clear: nothing short of transforming society will avert catastrophe… individuals, employers, institutions and international partners will need to work together to understand the trade-offs, agree compromises and seize opportunities.”

In other words, reaching Net Zero will require sacrifice. But, as governments have found time and again — on issues ranging from house building to adult social care — agreeing on the problem is the easy bit. Building support for a specific plan is the hard part. A Government fond of Cakeism and fearful of a Red Wall backlash has delayed publication of the Treasury’s report into the cost of achieving Net Zero, precisely because it fears the political cost of that sacrifice.

Last year, when government needed lockdown compliance, scientists like Witty, Van-Tam and Vallance were deployed to make the case for sacrifice. It worked. The government will be relying on their persuasive power again.

However, the results of the second wave of the MHP Mischief Polarisation Tracker — our study of UK public opinion, produced with Cambridge University’s Political Psychology Lab — suggest that scientists are losing their reputation as unbiased seekers of truth, weakening their ability to galvanise public opinion.

Between Wave 1 of the Tracker (conducted December 2020 / January 2021) and Wave 2 (June 2021), voters became more likely to say that scientists were a biased source of information, with right wing voters registering a particular increase in perceptions of bias. While scientists are still seen by both left and right as the least biased source of information, this was the biggest shift among the six categories we examined:

Worse, scientists are the second-most polarising source of information on our list. This means they are at risk of taking on totemic status in the UK’s culture war, with left wing voters adopting them as being on “their side” and right wing voters rejecting them in response.

In this scenario, scientists’ words will be treated as unquestionable truth by the left and deeply suspicious by the right. This is both antithetical to the spirit of scientific enquiry and unhelpful to the cause of building political consensus.

Why is this happening?

The first cause is the politicisation of the pandemic, which has morphed from a “practical” debate about flattening curves to a “values” driven debate about what kind of society we want to live in. Scientists have been at the forefront of the debate and politicians have sought to borrow their credibility — instead, they have drained it.

The second is the media prominence of scientist-activists (most notably ‘Independent Sage’) whose biases have come under increasing scrutiny (note, our study pre-dated ‘Madeley vs Michie’ and the broader controversy over Sage’s Communist influences). Oxford scientist Trish Greenhalgh recently blamed the media for ‘pitting scientists against each other’ and feeding polarisation, but she was also one of the architects of a public letter by scientists that called plans to unlock ‘a dangerous and unethical experiment’ by the government. This is precisely the kind of language that polarises opinion.

The third is growing concern about biases within the Academy. From proposed legislation to defend free speech on campus to high-profile political protests by academics themselves, 2021 has seen a rise in the number of stories which blur the lines between academia and politics. While a recent study by Kings College found university bias to be a minority concern, focus on the issue is growing.

And finally, attempts to shut down avenues of debate and scrutiny inevitably lead to a backlash. The initial censorship of the Lab Leak theory did great damage, suggesting collusion between media, government, tech and the scientific community. If you believe that one of those institutions is biased, then the transitive law applies to the other conspirators. You are all as bad as each other in the mind of the observer.

As our Tracker data shows, the scientific community still broadly enjoys the public trust, but this cannot be taken for granted. Scientists need to exercise caution and be careful not to stray too often over the line between ‘what is’ and ‘what ought to be’. Most importantly, they should call out those who seek to use them as pawns in their political battles.

To win public support for action on Net Zero, politicians will need to rely more on science, but less on scientists.

Is genomics the key to pandemic recovery?

Posted on: August 17th, 2021 by Tomas White

From Crick and Watson’s discovery of the double helix (the structure of DNA molecule) to the subsequent establishment of the Human Genome Project which enabled us to read the complete genetic blueprint of a human being, the UK has a long heritage in genomics.

More recently genomics has revolutionised how patients are diagnosed and treated and, thanks to continued efforts and investment from both industry and government, methodologies over the years have been refined, driving down the cost to sequence a genome and making it more accessible for clinicians to use in everyday practice.

When the first draft of human genome was completed it had taken 13 years and over £2 billion to read the genetic code. Today, a genome can be sequenced in a few days and costs less than £1000.

But where the potential of genomics had previously only been realised by those at the cutting edge of the medical research, thanks to the pandemic it has now been thrust into the limelight for the wider public.

As policymakers look for efficient ways to recover NHS services and outline priorities for the future, there is a unique opportunity for genomics. Given the strong foundation of investment and expertise it would be remiss to not reflect on how genomics has supported us throughout the pandemic, and ensure that we embed genomics into planning for the future.

Throughout the pandemic

Without genomics, controlling the spread of COVID wouldn’t be possible. Rapid genome sequencing has enabled researchers to develop vaccines at pace, monitor outbreaks and map variants – all of which play a crucial in managing spread and impact of pandemic.

Monitoring outbreaks

Through tracking community transmissions, scientists have been able to identify similarities in viral sequences which would suggest the virus was transmitted from a similar source. This has allowed public health officials to identify outbreaks and tailor interventions for specific regions to combat spikes in infections – this information undoubtedly informed the tiered restrictions system in England.

This process has also been instrumental in monitoring transmission in hospitals and care homes, and has enabled the identification of internal outbreaks which would be putting patients or residents at risk of COVID infection, informing decisions to step-up measures to prevent infection including limiting staff movement.

Mapping variants

Because there have been so many infections with the virus – nearly 200,000,000 at the time of writing – the virus has had ample opportunity to mutate. Most changes have little impact on the properties of the virus, however some make the virus more severe, impact vaccine effectiveness or make it more transmissible.

Genomic surveillance teamed with international collaboration in identifying and mapping new variants will be crucial as governments look to return to normal and will inform the level of domestic restrictions as well as determining international travel protocols where concerning variants are prominent. The UK is leading the way, offering its expertise to countries with less-developed genomic capacity and expertise through the New Variant Assessment Platform. The Platform seeks to promote ‘health security across the world’ by ‘boost[ing] global capacity to understand coronavirus so we’re all better prepared for whatever lies ahead’.

Vaccine development

Effective vaccines have long been thought of as the holy grail which will lead us out of the pandemic. Genomics has helped scientists to understand the DNA sequence of the virus, enabling researchers to target specific characteristics of the virus. As we fast approach rolling out booster jabs for the vaccine, genomics will undeniably play a critical role in allowing us to understand vaccine efficacy on mutations of the virus.

Beyond the pandemic

For the new Health Secretary and new Chief Executive of the NHS, clearing the NHS backlog is sure to be the number one priority as they take on their new roles, and as we look beyond the pandemic genomics should be an important tool in how the health system recovers.

Clearing the backlog in cancer

The backlog for NHS services created by the pandemic needs no introduction, and in cancer around 16,000 people currently waiting more than 62 days for a diagnosis, of whom about 12 per cent are thought to have cancer.

Genomics can and does play a critical part in diagnosing cancer, because cancer is a disease which alters what once was ‘normal’ DNA. By analysing tumours and identifying the different changes in genes, researchers can develop treatments that target specific mutations, and doctors can prescribe treatment tailored to the specific cancer. This will be increasingly important as we look to clear the backlog in diagnosing cancer, with quicker diagnosis and more accurate prescribing meaning better outcomes for patients and reduced re-admissions to hospital.

Saving the system money

Following the pandemic it will be increasingly important to keep patients out of hospital and improve outcomes for patients. As seen in cancer, pharmacogenomics – the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs – enables clinicians to offer patients treatments tailored to their specific disease, accounting for mutations identified through genomic sequencing of the virus.

Pharmacogenomics can play a key role in saving the system money through personalised medicine. It is thought that drug interventions are effective in just 30-60% of patients because of the difference in how individuals react to the treatment. The right treatment first time saves the system through a reduction in failed treatments and in some cases the need for re-admission to hospital.


With the spotlight firmly on COVID recovery, we are at a critical junction for cancer services and the NHS as a whole. There has never been a better time for the UK to leverage its world leading expertise and reap the benefits from the substantial investment in capabilities and technologies to work with the health system to harness genomics and build in genomics capabilities to recovery plans.

As the genomics community continues to work at tremendous pace to tackle the virus with the tenacity shown in the pandemic, there is opportunity for policymakers to revisit government initiatives, such as the Genomics Strategy, to reflect the lessons from COVID to accelerate and embed the role that genomics plays in our health system.

Now is the time for the UK to cement it’s status as a global leader in genomics, whilst ensuring patients are offered the best possible predictive, preventative and personalised care.

What was the pandemic hiding?

Posted on: July 1st, 2021 by Tomas White

The collective focus on the virus also meant that the usual scrutiny of organisations was side-lined, for three key reasons:

  • Visibility

Firstly, a lack of physical access to businesses due to infection control measures meant there was less visibility over standards and operations. Coupled with suspensions of regulatory reporting in many sectors, this meant a setback in terms of accountability and transparency. Stakeholders were not as informed as they should be about what went on in organisations. Recently the FT reported that, in the UK alone, only a quarter of the UK companies normally eligible to report their gender pay gap data did so in time for the April deadline this year.

  • Patience

As society grappled to come to terms with the implications of a pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, public patience and forgiveness spiked. Customers were forgiving about long queues to speak with customer service, we permitted delays in supply chains and understood reductions in staff numbers.

  • Priorities

That leads us to the third factor that contributed to the pandemic concealing your next crisis: priorities. Even when we were aware of issues within organisations, all of our energy was directed towards the pandemic. The ultimate priority was the safety of our friends, family and community.

A shifting focus:

As we emerge from lockdown and vaccination rates decrease the chance of severe illness, the blindfold comes off. Regulatory investigations and organisational reporting will reveal how organisations coped with the pandemic, what mistakes were made, and how far businesses are from recovery.

The public will again have access to organisations and their forgiveness for poor service and delays will have been worn out. After over a year of lockdowns, businesses are expected to have learned to cope with the complications posed by the pandemic. Renewed freedoms in our everyday lives is abruptly ended our combined patience.

Brand loyalty is at risk and social media and the tabloids are the weapons of choice for the consumer, made all the more powerful by a media that has been even more heavily reliant on social media than ever before and whose victim is only a zoom call, direct to studio, away.

The priority slowly transitions from being about infection control to a focus on a return to normalcy. We will again care about the things that were important back in 2019, and now we have a clamour for scrutiny and a desire to attribute blame for the many tragedies of the pandemic. High profile priorities will once more come to the fore, meaning scrutiny of your supply chain, environmental impact and staff welfare and working conditions are considerable and rapidly re-emerging threats.

We already see this reflected in the news, where the headlines are no longer universally dominated by COVID. There is space for other stories, and one of those stories could be about your crisis.

What you should be doing to prepare:

Register: Every organisation should be evaluating its performance during the pandemic through multiple lenses. Update your communications risk register and study the horizon to understand where scrutiny will come from. Think about all your stakeholders, including regulators, employees and customers.

Reconsider: Consider doing things differently after the pandemic. Don’t just go back to the way you were, as values and expectations have changed. Now is the time to consider how you would react in a crisis in this new context.

Relearn: Don’t assume you know how your stakeholders will react. Just as you have changed in the pandemic, so have they. Know your narrative and work out what you will need to respond to and be ready to communicate it and defend it robustly.

If you want to learn how this might impact your reputation, please contact

Discussions with the front line – COVID-19 Reflections and Recovery

Posted on: May 17th, 2021 by Tomas White

The report details how the pandemic has shaped the NHS, with the event’s speakers providing personal insight into the challenges and opportunities that have arisen.

We were joined by speaker’s Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and Emergency Medicine Consultant at St Thomas’ Hospital; Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, a GP in Newham, and Professor of Health Improvement at UCL; and Shaun Lintern, Health Correspondent at The Independent. Rachel Rowson, MHP’s Head of Health Innovation, chaired the discussion, during which the participants offered fascinating insights into healthcare inequalities and technology, workforce challenges and the post-pandemic recovery.

Technology: how to strike a balance? 

The role that technology can play in improving or exacerbating healthcare inequalities was a key talking point from the event. The speakers explained how telemedicine could facilitate the provision of healthcare at home, but pre-existing socioeconomic factors may prevent some groups accessing online services. Dr Henderson stated that such technology could be hugely advantageous, explaining that it became possible to access patients shielding remotely, facilitated professional communication and enhanced information sharing. However, she commented that while NHS 111 had been used successfully for initial pandemic triaging, there could be an issue of equity of access to appointments and raised concerns about not knowing if those who needed appointments were able to secure them.

Shaun Lintern added that increased use of technology could in fact improve access to health services for harder to reach groups such as those in remote areas. Professor Marshall explained how the advantages and disadvantages of the increased use of technology were yet to be fully understood, highlighting the need for a balanced assessment of the benefits. The panel agreed that central to the discussion was the importance of alleviating digital poverty, noting that a truly National Health Service must cater for everyone.


What next for the NHS workforce?

The discussion then turned to workforce challenges experienced during the pandemic. Professor Marshall called workforce planning “the biggest oxymoron the NHS has ever seen” in that good workforce planning is vital yet has historically been poor, resulting in increased workload on the ground exacerbated by an increasing demand. Both he and Dr Henderson discussed the challenges that have arisen from the increasing staff shortages, with the former stressing that bureaucracy and limited capacity had put patient-provider relationships under strain. Nevertheless, Professor Marshall was keen to stress that, despite social distancing measures, GPs had been able to provide good quality care for the patients they did see, thanks to reduced bureaucracy and regulations. Building on the findings of MHP Health’s Pandemic Perspectives report where healthcare workers had described their experiences as “overwhelming” and “stressful”, it was discussed that much of the stress and intensity that has been placed on the workforce has led to many GPs currently working part-time.

Despite these challenges, the speakers believed that camaraderie had played a considerable part in the NHS’ ability to cope with the pandemic. They felt that the response of NHS staff to the COVID-19 crisis has enabled the NHS to recruit healthcare professionals, but the issue lies in retaining them. From the perspective of emergency medicine, Dr Henderson stated that the first wave was “an incredibly collaborative time”. This was due to staff quickly adapting to new roles and working together to deliver urgent care. She commented that the second wave was more challenging, as staff had to cope with COVID-19 patients on top of the winter pressures and an increasingly exhausted workforce. Echoing a finding in Pandemic Perspectives, where a respondent stated, “we have all pulled together to ensure we keep the service going no matter what”, Dr Henderson and Professor Marshall emphasised the value of the camaraderie that took place during the peak of the pandemic, which must continue in the months ahead.


A post-pandemic NHS

The panel also shared their thoughts on how the NHS could recover from the pandemic as it faces a period of transition. Whilst it continues to manage the impact of COVID-19, it must also prepare for post-pandemic life and the resumption of normal services. Before March 2020, it was noted that services had already been under immense strain, with staff now facing the challenge of catching up with the backlog of treatment postponed by the pandemic. Shaun Lintern commented that staff will have to tackle the biggest waiting list since 2008, with over 300,000 waiting over a year for treatment. The panel agreed that the workforce capacity challenge has signified the importance of implementing an NHS workforce plan, supported by recruitment budgets.

In spite of these challenges, our speakers were optimistic about the NHS’s COVID-19 recovery. MHP found that healthcare workers want greater recognition of the challenges they’re facing and continued support for digital transformation.  When asked to list three key gains from the pandemic and hopes for the future, a repeated theme was the altruism of healthcare workers. Both Shaun Lintern and Professor Marshall maintained that the public now has more recognition for the hard work of NHS staff, particularly nurses. They hoped this would continue into the next phase, as did the health workers interviewed for Pandemic Perspectives. Dr Henderson also praised the public’s response to the COVID-19 restrictions, stating that they should be given more information in the future and be trusted to make the right decisions. Overall, the discussion was a brilliant summary of the past 15 months and provided an excellent opportunity to hear from those who helped us through the challenges of the past year.

Pandemic Perspectives: Reflecting on One Year of COVID-19