On 26th October, I attended the Actuaries Livery Lecture hosted by Fiona Morrison, current Master of the Actuaries Company. Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers gave an excellent and very topical presentation “What lessons should we learn, as a nation, from COVID-19”. Chris focused his talk on 5 key areas – (i) national risk management, (ii) international risk management, (iii) tackling inequalities, (iv) rebalancing government from national to local, and (v) the future of our public finances.

On national risk management he pointed to the need restructure government to look at the longer term, following the progress already made in setting up a National Infrastructure Commission. He urged politicians to devote more time to developing an international structure rather than the overwhelming current focus on just trade.

Chris presented some alarming statistics on the significantly greater impact of COVID-19 in the most deprived areas and how the pandemic was increasing the gap in wealth and health. To tackle this, he called for public services to be more devolved and less centralised, as local health organisations work better with local leaders, to improve track and trace as an example. He also pointed out that more devolved societies tend to be more equal.

Finally, he spoke about the impact of the pandemic on our public finances, with an additional £300 billon of additional public borrowing so far. He pointed to the financial parallels with the Second World War, yet out of that we built a fairer, more prosperous society and the challenge was to do that again. His talk was followed by a lively and engaging question and answer session.

Valerie Owen Le Vaillant OBE
Master, Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects.