COVID challenge – where next for society, the NHS and our everyday lives?

Rachel Clarke, Anthony Costello and Hugh Pym

The pandemic has left families bereaved and some struggling with long term physical and mental health challenges. Many questions have been asked about policy decisions at key moments during the crisis. So where now for the NHS, the economy and guidelines for keeping safe? Professor Anthony Costello, a member of the Independent SAGE committee, has been a prominent voice in the ongoing COVID debate. Dr Rachel Clarke, a high profile commentator on the NHS, is author of Breathtaking, an insider’s account of medicine in the time of coronavirus.  Their discussion will be chaired by BBC News Health Editor Hugh Pym. 

Rachel Clarke

Dr Rachel Clarke is a palliative care doctor and writer who lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two children.

Her latest book, the Sunday Times number 3 bestseller Dear Life, has just been shortlisted for the 2020 Costa Book awards, and was long-listed for the 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize. It is based on her work in a hospice and explores love, loss, grief, dying and what matters at the end of life. The Costa biography judges described it as: “A beautifully written, powerfully moving book that tackles an emotive and difficult subject with professional compassion and personal insight.”

Rachel has written for the Guardian, Sunday Times, New York Times, Independent, Telegraph, Prospect, BMJ, NEJM and Lancet. She has appeared on BBC Radio 4 Today, BBC Newsnight, Channel 4 News, BBC Woman’s Hour, ITV News and Sky News, among others. Her first book, the Sunday Times bestselling Your Life in My Hands, depicted life for a junior doctor on the NHS frontline.

Rachel cares deeply about helping patients live the end of their lives as fully and richly as possible – and in the power of human stories to build empathy and inspire change.

Anthony Costello

Anthony Costello is Professor of International Child Health at the UCL Institute of Child Health, and Director of the UCL Institute for Global Health. His areas of scientific expertise include the evaluation of community interventions to reduce maternal and newborn mortality, neonatal paediatrics, women’s groups, the cost-effectiveness of interventions, nutritional supplementation and international aid for maternal and child health. He has also contributed to papers on health economics, health systems, child development, nutrition and infectious disease, and managing the health effects of climate change. He directs programme and project grants funded by the UK Department for International Development, the Wellcome Trust, Saving Newborn Lives Initiative, UBS Foundation, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, the Big Lottery Fund and the Health Foundation. He has also provided consultancy for Save the Children Fund, the World Bank, WHO, DFID, USAID, UNDP and Saving Newborn Lives. He is a founding board member of Women and Children First, a UK based NGO which implements maternal and child health programmes in poor populations. Currently he is an Honorary Consultant Paediatrician at Great Ormond Street Hospital and at the UCL Hospital for Tropical Diseases, holds Fellowships of the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and of the Royal College of Physicians, and formerly was a vice-President of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Hugh Pym

Hugh is the BBC’s health editor. He has been reporting politics, economics, public spending and NHS finance for more than two decades. He was a correspondent for ITN and has co-authored several books including Inside The Banking Crisis. Hugh comes from a medical family – his father was a doctor, his brother has pursued a career in research, and his mother was a vet. The family joke was that the dog got more sympathy than anyone else who was feeling unwell.