The future of NHS funding dominated the first morning of the NHS Confederation’s annual conference, Confed18.
At 8am, 1,500 delegates trickled into the cavernous Central Convention Complex in Manchester – the city of the NHS’s birth 70 years ago. Alongside the conference, more than 95 healthcare sector exhibitors were on show.
To start the morning, delegates first heard a video message from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, who paid tribute to NHS staff.
In the five-minute speech, the Prince of Wales highlighted his support for integrated care, referenced ancient Greek philosophy, and included his own experience of NHS care at Great Ormond Street. The Prince of Wales honoured the ‘men and women who deliver exemplary care every single day.’
Delegates then heard a welcome speech from Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation. During his remarks, Niall polled the audience of healthcare professionals with the help of Confed18’s dedicated app.
The audience was asked to vote on questions to ask Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt, who is set to speak on Thursday. Thirty-five per cent of voters selected funding as the priority topic.
‘Commit to making hard choices’
Delegates then heard a speech from Stephen Dorrell, chair of the NHS Confederation.
“We have to commit to making the hard choices which make the difference between aspiration and reality,” said Dorrell, who served as Secretary of State for Health from 1995 to 1997.
The Confed’s chair called on closer integration between the NHS and social care.
Failure of the NHS and social care to work with each other and the rest of public services “doesn’t just lead to distorted demand patterns; it leads to worse outcomes and damaged lives,” he said.
Dorrell also warned against excessive reliance on NHS institutions, rather than adherence to the health service’s original vision – the principle of universal healthcare for everybody.
“We make the mistake of thinking that the familiar institutions are the essence of the NHS – we attach our loyalty to the institutions rather than to the values they were intended to deliver.”
After Dorrell’s speech, Niall, took to the stage along with Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research and Economics at the Health Foundation and Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). The three discussed findings from NHS Confederation-commissioned research into UK healthcare funding needs.
Research by the report’s authors found that a 3.9 per cent annual increase in social care spending for the next 15 years would be the minimum needed to continue the current level for social care services.
‘We can’t expect immediate results’
Later on in the morning, the audience heard a keynote address from Ian Dalton, who made his first appearance at Confed conference as chief executive of NHS Improvement.
In his speech, Ian set out his personal commitment to improve the support provided to NHS leaders.
“Our aim is to shift our emphasis on regulating, firmly to being part of the improvement journey,” he said.
Admitting “we’ve not done nearly enough to support our leaders on the front line,” he promised to give NHS leaders the time and support to turn around challenged organisations. “We can’t expect immediate results,” he said, “but we need to support leaders to create improved trajectories.”
Ian also announced more detail about the plans for NHS Improvement and NHS England to work more closely together.
After Ian’s remarks, delegates networked in the hall, and saw some of the more than 95 healthcare sector exhibitors on show.
Here's what happened in the afternoon.