Kicking off the afternoon, the conference switched to its first breakout sessions, covering topics including Brexit, mental health and budgeting.
During a session entitled The future of mental health: Better integration and digital perspectives, delegates heard about the work Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust is doing to use technology to manage risk and lessen self-harm.
In another breakout session, entitled Leading integrated care: from vision to reality, NHS leaders told how they were working towards ambitious population health, quality and efficiency goals. The session takes place as the first integrated care systems (ICSs) to be launched approach their one-year anniversary.
At an afternoon breakout session, entitled What can we learn from each other? Is there space for a UK NHS forum? health professionals from Wales, Northern Ireland and England said that challenges such as workforce, finance, demographics are so crucial they transcend geographical boundaries.
At Beyond artificial intelligence, speakers discussed the void of operational information that is shared across the NHS.
In and around the breakout sessions, delegates networked over refreshments in the hall, and saw some of the more than 95 health and care sector exhibitors on show.
And after a morning of speeches on health funding, transformation and improvement, the Confed18 main stage turned the spotlight on the future of the NHS, mental health and equality and diversity.
Innovation and impact
Delegates also flocked to five new exhibition zones, dedicated to the NHS at 70, public health, mental health, innovation, and hard-hitting debates on the latest health and care developments.
The Innovation Zone showcased pioneering - often tech-focused - projects from various trusts across the country.
The Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and Nottinghamshire STP, displayed a scheme to provide dedicated pastoral and practical support to junior doctors individually and collectively.
Another trust, the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, pioneered a study using internet-enabled devices to allow for remote monitoring of patients.
Back on the main stage, Confed18 delegates heard that a ‘quiet revolution’ is rippling through the country, affecting how the UK is thinking and talking about mental health.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, spoke of the groundswell moving forward action on mental health – and the impact it is making.
He credited an increase in non-stigmatising media coverage, political backing and public support from the royal family as catalysts for change, adding that mental health is a “live issue in every single workplace.”
But he was clear that the NHS still has some way to go in supporting staff mental health.
The view was shared by panel member Nigel Jones, chair of the City Mental Health Alliance, who spoke of the moral duty of employers to focus on wellness, adding that business leaders have a role to play in fostering a health-creating society.
‘There is no plan b’
The head of NHS England, Simon Stevens, then took to the stage.
Remarking on the government’s promise of a long-term funding settlement, Simon said he was ‘heartened’ by the commitment but said there is a need to think carefully about priorities, assuming that it’s a ‘workable’ and not a ‘blockbuster’ settlement.
Welcoming the Health Select Committee report on health and social care, Simon said that care redesign is already bearing fruit among the 12.5 million people covered by integrated care systems, and that there is a keenness to accelerate that progress. “This is where the health and care sector is headed,” he said, “There is no plan b.”
Also taking place in the afternoon were several sessions that focused on the use of clinical data, technological advances, and examples of digital tools in action, among other sessions.
Back on the main stage, delegates heard a six-member panel talk on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion - Are NHS Boards Taking Responsibility?
Chaired by Baroness Dido Harding, session delegates voted on whether NHS boards are capable of leading and managing the equality, diversity and inclusion agenda. Fifty-six per cent said yes.
Panellists discussed the challenges of ensuring diversity and equality on boards. Sam Allen, Chief Executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The last thing I would want is tokenism. I think we need to be really honest.” Sam also chairs the Health and Care Women Leaders Network.
“Some people find it very uncomfortable talking about all aspects of diversity. They don’t feel equipped.”
‘Biggest financial squeeze in its history’
At the end of the day, Jon Ashworth, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Deputy Chair of the Labour Party, gave a pre-recorded keynote address.
“We know that the NHS is experiencing the biggest financial squeeze in its history,” said Jon.
He added: “It’s clear that our NHS and social care sector needs a long-term plan.”
Jon discussed previous funding actions for the NHS by Labour governments, and criticized those who took “cheap shots” at health and managers or bureaucracy – instead of being committed to a solution.
“The NHS is not simply about money. It is about values.”
He spoke of “shameful health inequalities” today and spoke of his party’s plans to invest in public health and prioritize children’s health and wellbeing.
Stay tuned for plenty more coming up tomorrow, including breakfast breakout sessions, and a keynote address by Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State of Health and Social Care.
If you missed any of the keynote sessions, you can catch them on video.
And lastly, here’s the roundup from the morning of day one.
Check out what happened on day two.