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Queen's hosts 'Reflections on a Pandemic’ In Conversation event with UK Chief Medical Officers

Queen’s University Belfast hosted a 'Reflections on a Pandemic’ In Conversation event with members of the Chief and Deputy Chief Medical Officer teams from across Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

The event was presented by the Ulster Medical Society in association with the Department of Health and Queen’s University and was chaired by Professor Nigel Hart of Queen’s in his role as President of the Ulster Medical Society for 2022-23. 

It reflected on the pandemic and what has been a groundbreaking time for society and celebrated the leadership shown by the Chief and Deputy Chief Medical Officers and additional key figures across the UK. 

Speakers included Professor Sir Michael McBride, the Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland; Sir Frank Atherton, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales; and Professor Sir Gregor Smith, the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland. 

The speakers shared learnings and collaborative successes and discussed the difficult decisions that were taken to contain the virus, inform and protect communities and limit the number of deaths that occurred during the pandemic. 

Speaking on the importance of the discussions, Professor Pascal McKeown, Dean and Head of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “This was a wonderful event where the Chief Medical Officers not only reflected on the challenges of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic but also provided amazing insights into the power of scientific collaboration to address urgent societal and health needs.” 

Professor Nigel Hart, Clinical Professor from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “It is so important as we emerge from the pandemic that we do take time to reflect on and learn from these most challenging of times so that we are better placed to meet the future health needs of all in our society.” 

The audience also heard how Queen’s as an institution contributed to the pandemic response, including leading research projects and clinical trials and creating free online places to upskill and retrain individuals whose livelihoods have been directly affected by COVID-19. 

Along with partners in the Public Health Agency and the Department of Health, the University also established walk-in test and vaccination centres, and led the way in piloting testing for students. 

Commenting on the event, Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Michael McBride, said: "This event has given us a unique opportunity to reflect and share valuable learning from the past three years, during which we have  certainly lived through unprecedented times.  

“While the pandemic is not yet over, thanks to collective efforts of society, medicine and science we are now in a much better place as we start to learn to live alongside COVID-19 while continuing to learn and build our future capability and capacity.” 



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