Following the successful trip to Brighton, the
second leg on the College’s party conference roadshow took me home
to Manchester for a series of meetings and discussions with
Parliamentarians, local councillors, healthcare colleagues,
voluntary sector organisations and others.
Welfare reform was high on the agenda and we
raised the concerns of the College’s service users and carers with
all the Parliamentarians that we met. It would seem that most MPs
postbags are full of letters and emails from concerned constituents
worried about the effect that changes to the benefits system will
have on them and their families.
We were also able to outline the work the
College and others have been doing on focusing attention on the
need for parity for mental health and how to make this a reality.
There seems to universal recognition that not enough emphasis has
been placed on mental health, both in terms of funding and its
importance in relation to the wider public health system.
Education and training for medical
professionals was another issue we discussed and it was interesting
to debate the GMC's recent report into medical education and
There was some fascinating debate at the
roundtables that we held and attended on a wide range of issues,
including obesity, early intervention and the importance of local
As with the all the conferences, we’re trying
to ensure that issues around mental health are raised at every
opportunity, and the fringe meetings have been an excellent way to
hear what politicians are thinking. The importance of good
mental health for both individuals and wider society is being
recognised and we are determined to be at the centre of this debate
for the sake of our patients and our profession.
his speech today Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham placed a
great deal of emphasis on the integration of health and social care
and the idea of a ‘whole-person’ approach to healthcare, which he
discussed when we met him on Monday. He said to the
conference hall today that whole-person care was “the best route to
an NHS with mental health at its heart, not relegated to the
fringes, but ready to help people deal with the pressure of modern
Yesterday, Labour leader Ed Miliband
reaffirmed Labour’s commitment to repealing the Health and Social
Care Act, a theme echoed by Andy Burnham today, and it will be
interesting to hear more about the details of Labour’s proposals as
the rhetoric of keynote conference speeches begin to be fleshed out
into specific policies.
A skill that I had forgotten, and which
was such a necessity at party conference, was the ability to
turn crowded hotel lobbies (where many of the discussions with MPs
and Peers take place) into impromptu meeting rooms. I continue to
be impressed by colleagues' abilities to magic chairs, seemingly
from thin air, and hold onto tables despite the number delegates
hovering for prime spots.
It won’t surprise anyone to hear that, it
being Manchester, the rain was out in force but thankfully my roof
is holding up. My work in the College continues this week and
then to Birmingham for Conservative conference...
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