About Anna Sayburn

website photoI am a freelance journalist, specialising in medicine and healthcare. Clients include The Economist Group, The BMJMedscape, National Institute for Health Research, Pharmaceutical Journal and Chemist and Druggist.

Skills include evidence appraisal and writing clearly about complex medical topics for a lay audience. I  have experience in writing, editing, commissioning and organising expert round table events. I write for both general and specialist media. I also write the Helen Oddfellow mystery thrillers – find my novel-writing alter ego here.

I deliver training in science media skills and communication, most recently to the media team at Asthma UK.

I was a finalist in the Medical Journalist Association’s Freelance of the Year award – here’s what the judges said:

“We were impressed by Anna’s ability to handle complex topics clearly and expertly for the lay reader.”

My fact-checking reports on Covid-19 are published on the COVID-19 Facts website.

News and features

Home based rehabilitation after knee replacement as effective as physiotherapy. Published in BMJ.

Self-testing for HIV could increase diagnoses in the trans community. Published in BMJ.

UK medicines regulator will consider new data on COVID-19 antiviral ‘rebound’ with Paxlovid. Published in Pharmaceutical Journal.

Government funds research to assess value of widespread pre-emptive pharmacogenetic testing. Published in Pharmaceutical Journal.

Antipsychotic use in people with dementia living in care homes rose during COVID-19 pandemic. Published in Pharmaceutical Journal.

‘Smart’ IV pumps could save hundreds of lives each year. Published in Pharmaceutical Journal.

Current therapies and new developments in NASH. Writing support for a round-table recent advances paper, published in Gut.

Caring for the carers: protecting the wellbeing of people working in adult social care. Briefing paper for the BSI Group.

The unrecognised burden of osteoarthritis. Briefing paper for the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Care after cancer surgery is key to improving survival. Published in National Institute for Health Research Alerts.

How can surgery recover from Covid-19? Published in Royal College of Surgeons Bulletin

Combined drug and psychological therapies most effective for depression. Published in National Institute for Health Research Alerts.

Indoor pollution could counteract benefits of lower pollution in lockdown for people with allergies. Published in Chemist and Druggist.

Does air pollution increase deaths from Covid-19? Published in Covid-19 Facts

How do we decide who gets life-saving Covid-19 treatment? Published in Medscape

Are doctors getting sufficient protective equipment against covid-19? Published in BMJ

Is primary care ready to switch to telemedicine? Published in Medscape

Is it too soon to predict an end to cervical cancer? The impact of HPV vaccination and cervical screening. Published in Medscape.

The pharmacists saving lives with naloxone. How front-line pharmacies are providing life-saving services to opiate users. Published in Chemist and Druggist.

Who funds our patient groups – and does it matter? An investigation into pharmaceutical company funding of patient charities. Published in Medscape.

Can healthcare be green? The surprising impact of clinical care on climate change. Published in Medscape.

Lifestyle medicine: a new medical specialty? Can lifestyle medicine ‘save the NHS’ or is it a way to shift blame to the patient? Published in The BMJ.

Medicine too? Sexual harassment and surgery. Is sexual harassment in the surgical profession a thing of the past? It depends who you ask. Published in Royal College of Surgeons’ Bulletin.

Doctors, death and dying. I investigated how a life in medicine – and the type of specialty you pick – can change the way you think about the end of life. Published in Student BMJ.

Will the machines take over surgery? Experts in machine learning and AI talk about whether surgeons will be handed their P45s any time soon. Published in Royal College of Surgeons’ Bulletin.

What if we cured cancer? Crystal-ball gazing with oncologists, medical statisticians and cancer charities, to assess the impact of an end to the world’s top killer. Published in Royal College of Surgeons’ Bulletin.


Rob Cook, Clinical Director at Bazian, an Economist Intelligence Unit business

Anna is an exceptional freelance healthcare writer and editor who produces high quality work for us to tight timelines. She has a deep understanding of issues across a breadth of health topic areas, adding critical interpretation and important context to bring research to life. It is always a pleasure to work with her.

Matthew Billingsley, editor, Student BMJ, a BMJ publication

Anna is an excellent journalist who I have commissioned to write several features for Student BMJ. Each time I have given her different topics to write on she has come up with well thought-out articles that get to the heart of what our audience needs to know. Overall, I have found her really easy to work with, hardworking, resourceful, and delivers engaging and clear copy.

Rob Finch, former managing editor, NHS Choices (now NHS.uk)

Impressive. That’s the word for Anna’s work. She’s handled complex science and politically sensitive news stories with aplomb turning in great copy to extremely pressing deadlines with copy that is clear, concise and powerful.


Head of Consumer Health at BMJ until 2014. I led a team of writers producing news stories, patient decision aids and in-depth health information, as part of the BMJ’s patient information service.

I’m a member of the Medical Journalists Association, the National Union of Journalists and Women In Journalism.

For my full CV and professional background, see LinkedIn.

Contact annasayburn[at]gmail.com.

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