The book will provide an authoritative and objective analysis of the UK’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic with a considered judgement of the failings and successes of British ministers, civil servants, health leaders and scientific experts. It will cover the drama, personalities and untold stories from the corridors of power. As the NHS celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2023 the author will consider how it stands in the aftermath of the pandemic with a backlog of treatment and operations to tackle.
There will be a comprehensive assessment covering preparedness, lockdown and responses to the pandemic and the winding down of restrictions. Based on interviews and conversations with a wide range of the leading players, the book will give an inside story of the biggest peacetime crisis in modern times. It will argue that there were significant failings by the British state and that the Whitehall machine was found wanting. Comparisons with other health systems will be included.
Revelations include: how ministers ignored high level advice to do a coronavirus pandemic contingency plan and how some parts of Government including the Treasury gave the message that COVID was defeated in the summer of 2020 with “Eat out to Help out” and other announcements.
The book will consider how in the summer of 2021 England moved fastest to lift restrictions – welcomed by many but with a covert intention of allowing infections to spread amongst healthier people to build up immunity.
The author as Health Editor for BBC News was one of the highest profile commentators on the pandemic. His personal experiences including visits to hospital intensive care units will be woven into the narrative. Harrowing stories from NHS staff and bereaved families gathered at the time will be covered. The author made frequent visits to the NHS frontline during lockdown and the most intense COVID waves for BBC News and witnessed the great pressure on the NHS.
The author will cover the drama of the vaccine rollout including his personal experience interviewing Margaret Keenan, the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer vaccine. While development and procurement of the vaccines was a success for Government experts and scientists, the fast rollout was largely down to NHS organisation and administration.
The drama of Boris Johnson’s serious COVID infection and spell in intensive care will be covered with an insider view of how the news media had to prepare for the worst. The author was interviewed live that night on the Ten o Clock News.