Sarah Neville

Financial Times

Sarah Neville's portfolio exhibits her deep knowledge of healthcare, gleaned through decades writing about the NHS and international systems. From the lasting impact of the pandemic on individuals' health, to a rare and revealing interview with the then-head of the NHS and the urgent search for a super-shot to protect against emerging new pathogens, Sarah has displayed a strong grasp of the wider forces buffeting her field, producing novel and impactful journalism that showcases her ability to humanise and dramatise complex ideas.

The growing evidence that Covid-19 is leaving people sicker, broke new ground by synthesising and analysing data that suggests the virus is causing an upsurge in conditions such as diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. It examined the implications for hard-pressed health systems of a potentially permanent change in health status for millions around the world. The piece had phenomenal reach, garnering more than 410,000 online page views globally, placing it among the top ten best read pieces published by the FT in the past year. It also lit up social media after being tweeted by leading scientists and clinicians as well as thousands of concerned readers. (The average FT story gets 3 per cent of its traffic from social media; this one received 23 per cent of its traffic from this source.) It continues to garner new readers two months after publication, evidence of how powerfully it has ignited the debate over the disease’s lasting effects. The place the NHS holds in our national life means it is often viewed as untouchable and opportunities to learn constructively from other countries’ health systems can be neglected. Sarah's second submission is an interview with former NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens. She secured the only interview he gave before stepping down from the role in July 2021, producing a highly readable profile which illuminated Stevens' background and personality and included several "shots fired" as one health expert expressed it. The famously political health service boss threw down the gauntlet to ministers about the need for a better funded and equipped NHS and the importance of “making the weather” to secure much-needed resources. Covid vaccines: the race for a single shot to prevent new pandemics, examined the state of research into a broadly protective vaccine. The article demonstrated her ability to make complicated concepts accessible, without losing a sense of the human excitement involved in an effort of this kind which could profoundly change the world's ability to respond to future outbreaks. It delivered the most comprehensive account of the stage research had reached while also explaining just how high are the stakes as the world grapples to avoid being permanently in thrall to fresh lethal viruses. As such, it made a significant contribution to understanding of this field.