What’s on the political horizon for the College in the summer recess?
29 July, 2022
It’s not been unknown for political commentators to have looked forward to the six weeks from the end of July to the start of September, so they can take advantage of the quiet during Westminster’s summer recess. This year they won’t.
For this year’s summer recess will be an eventful one, as the temperature rises on the race to the next Prime Minister. With Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss using the next few weeks to woo the membership of their party, this will be an unusually intense period of political high-drama.
The new PM will be announced on 5 September and just two days later will face Sir Keir Starmer at the Commons’ Despatch Box. This will be the first Prime Minister’s Questions of the new parliamentary session.
That’s why the Royal College of Psychiatrists is encouraging the two leadership candidates to prioritise health issues. These will have to be addressed whoever takes the keys to Number 10.
On 21 July the College signed a joint statement along with seven other Royal Colleges and the Association of Royal Medical Colleges. The statement calls for Health and Social Care to be key priorities of the new Government. Collectively we’re asking the next PM to:
- Commit to planning and providing a health and care workforce that meets the needs of the population, particularly by increasing medical school places and clinical training places.
- Commit to reducing health inequality by tackling the causes of ill health so that in the long run we reduce pressure on the NHS by reducing preventable illness.
- Commit to fixing social care so that we end the cycle of working age adults and old age adults being admitted to hospital, or delayed in leaving hospital, because of insufficient social care packages to help them live independently.
As Dr Adrian James said:
“It is vitally important that the leadership candidates to be our next Prime Minister address these important issues during the campaign and that whoever enters 10 Downing Street recognises the country needs a plan of action.
“By working together with other Royal Colleges and the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges, we shall be using the summer period to engage with the leadership teams of the last two candidates, Conservative MPs and various interest groups within the Conservative Party to ensure the issues highlighted in the joint statement are not ignored.”
By engaging with Conservative MPs and various health related interest groups, we shall be well placed to work with newly appointed Ministers and Special Advisers.
Whoever wins there is much speculation about a possible Emergency Budget within weeks and a new Queen’s Speech within months. A General Election will also have to take place within just over two years. As a College we have to be ready to influence the new Government and campaign on the issues important to us.
While engagement with the teams of the leadership candidates is important, we continue with our ongoing engagement with shadow ministers and MPs in the Labour Party. This includes their National Policy Forum and various health related interest groups too.
As the Labour Party formulates policies and agenda for its manifesto that it will offer the voters, it is an important opportunity for the College to influence this process and its contents. We shall be doing this with the Lib-Dems too.
This is why the College will be at the Conservative, Labour and the Lib-Dems party conferences, making the case to MPs, Peers and others, about investing in the mental health workforce and tackling the NHS backlog.
If anyone was expecting it be an uneventful summer recess, probably best to leave that to next year. Or maybe even the one after that?
Peter Hand is the Public Affairs and Stakeholder Manager at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.