National Association for Patient Participation

RCGP at Conservative Party Conference

06 October 2017

Hot off the heels of our successful influencing work at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, the College attended the Conservative Party’s Annual Conference in Manchester.

Chair Helen Stokes-Lampard and Vice Chair Kamila Hawthorne worked to promote the needs and interests of College members, and wider general practice to the Government’s health ministers and other key representatives.
The college met with Health Ministers Philip Dunne and Steve Brine, and had informal conversations with the Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt. These meetings were an excellent opportunity to speak directly to Government about the issues affecting GPs, and the subsequent impact on patient care. The College also met with Health Committee member Andrew Selous, and new backbench MP Bob Seely.
Steve Brine MP also hosted our fringe event on empowering patients and social prescribing, alongside representatives of the Richmond Group and the Health Foundation. In the audience were Jo Churchill MP – Parliamentary Private Secretary to Jeremy Hunt; and a Health Special Adviser from the Prime Minister’s team.
Alex Chalk MP attended our roundtable to discuss issues around interface of primary and secondary care, which again we joint-chaired with the BMA, and was well attended by high-level representatives from government, the NHS, other Royal Colleges, and the charity sector; looking at solutions to improve workload for our members and the quality of care for patients.
Party conferences are an opportunity for government ministers to set out their political priorities for the next 12 months. As such, we were eagerly awaiting the speech from Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. Though his remarks did not focus on general practice, he did revisit his pledge to increase the number of doctors being trained by 25%, and announced a guaranteed 25% increase in the number of training places for nurses as well.
He said he was ‘confident’ that the rights of EU healthcare workers would remain after Brexit, though this stopped some way short of a guarantee.
He announced the introduction of flexible working environments in 12 trusts across the NHS to support NHS staff and their families. He also announced that affordable housing would be made available to NHS staff, so when NHS land is sold, NHS staff will have first refusal on affordable housing to be built on that land.
He talked about making the NHS the ‘safest’ healthcare system in the world and engendering a culture of learning. Highlighting trusts that have come out of special measures, he put the onus on staff and leadership rather than funding.
We are now beginning the work of further developing the relationships we’ve established at the conferences, with a view to growing the voice of general practice in Westminster for our members.

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