Roundup: The afternoon of day two - as it happened

Jeremy Hunt

The afternoon of the second and final day was dominated by a keynote address by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt, and the closing NHS 7Tea party opening to mark seven decades of the health service.

To start the afternoon session, delegates stood in silence in memory of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, which took place one year ago today.

Shortly after lunch, Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham sat down with Victoria Macdonald, Channel 4’s Health and Social Care Correspondent, and discussed the NHS’s “extraordinary” response to the Manchester arena suicide bombing in May last year.

“It was extraordinary the way the NHS rose to the challenge on the night [of the Manchester Arena attack] and in the days after,” said the former health secretary, who hailed the health service as being “much more than the sum of its parts.”

“This was about the whole system approach where people abandoned what they were doing and came in,” he added.

The mayor also spoke on the need for better mental health services for those suffering with traumatic events.

“There are lots of stories of people who out there who needed some counselling and some support who needed it [after the bombing], but still couldn’t get it,” he said.

Effective collaboration

Afternoon breakout sessions included a discussion by the Care Quality Commission emphasising the importance of effective local health and social care systems. A national report from the local system project will be published on July 3rd.

Another session, led by the NHS Clinical Commissioners network, which is part of the NHS Confederation, focused on effective collaboration between primary and secondary care.

In another session, entitled The future is out there, delegates explored how to deliver more care closer to home and lift pressures on other parts of the system.

Back in the exhibitions hall, the Innovation Zone showcased pioneering projects from various trusts and health-related organisations across the country.

The Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust showcased a project called The Life Rooms, which involved partnering up with 54 organisations to raise the profile of mental wellbeing. The purpose of the project was to prevent people having to use clinical mental health services.

Another organisation, Place2Be, provides whole-school mental health services in 296 primary and secondary schools across the UK. It claims that its interventions have led to 68 per cent of children showing improvements in terms of wellbeing.

A video from the NHS Confederation was aired featuring interviews from members of the public talking about what the NHS means to them. 

Later in the afternoon, a brief session was held on health’s more political side. The main stage session, entitled Reflections from the political bridge, featured three current and former politicians being interviewed by Victoria Macdonald, the Channel 4 health correspondent.

They gave advice to Jeremy Hunt, the longest-serving health secretary.

Norman Lamb, the current Chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee and former Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health from 2015 to 2017 said:

“Recognise the strength of your position now. He’s [Hunt] been a survivor…. He’s in a very powerful position if he chooses to use that power to get the deal that the NHS needs.”

Stephen Dorrell, current chair of the NHS Confederation and former Health Secretary from 1995 to 1997, advised: “Stay close to the prime minister. The key job of the Secretary of State for Health is that he or she wins their arguments with the Treasury.”

Frank Dobson, a Labour Party MP and former Secretary of State for Health from 1997 to 1999, made a football analogy to describe his hopes for future funding of the NHS.

He said: “I hope the government has noticed that the people on the top of the Premier League have all the money that they need, and the sides that get relegated don’t have all the money that they need. And they should make sure that the NHS is at the top there with all the money it needs.”

Opportunities to ‘get it right’

In the final keynote of Confed18, health secretary Jeremy Hunt gave assurances of a joined-up funding plan for health and social care and announced that doctors and nurses will be exempt from the Tier 2 visa cap.

Jeremy then shared his hopes for the future of health and care.

These included a stable, long-term funding environment that focuses on productivity, efficiency and reducing waste, in which at times “lousy” hospital IT systems are transformed and do more to unleash time for staff.

Reiterating intentions to focus on care pathways towards prevention rather than cure, and involving the public in the plans, Jeremy highlighted the need to think about other opportunities to “get it right.”

He set out his intention to develop a small set of bold ambitions on how health and care can be transformed, which have standards that everyone recognises and appreciates.

“70 years ago we were saying something about our values as a nation – in this country, everyone matters,” he said. “As we restate out vows we’re saying the same thing.

“If we turned heads 70 years ago we can do it again today. Let’s be bold and deliver that promise.”

After that, it was time for delegates to hear from the frontline workers of the NHS from the last seven decades.

‘Atrocious hours’

Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, welcomed to the stage ten men and women who, in his words, “dedicated their lives to service in the NHS.”

Peter Sykes, who started as a junior doctor in an NHS hospital in the 1960s, recalled “exhausting” 80-hour weeks on the job.

“The hours were frankly atrocious,” he said. But he also recalled a spirit of “camaraderie” – some of it fuelled by free beer kindly supplied from a local brewery.

“It was good fun, even though you were exhausted half the time,” said Cynthia Matthews, a doctor who also started in the same decade.

Olive Belfield, who started as a nurse back in the NHS’s founding years of the 1940s, recalled a world of a hand-made wound dressings, and a ten-shilling weekly wage, and on-site living arrangements.

“As nurses we were quite frivolous, and we were not officially allowed into the doctor’s [living] areas, but we used to go,” she said, to laughter from the audience.

Grand finale

With all of the main stage sessions over, delegates packed the exhibition hall for Confed18’s grand finale: the NHS 7Tea Party Opening. 

Under blue, red and white bunting, and over tea and cake, delegates chatted with former frontline staff who were there at the very start, and current junior doctors and student nurses.   

Niall Dickson, the NHS Confederation chief executive, interviewed Ethel Armstrong, a former midwife who worked for the NHS from its very first day in 1948, and a junior doctor and student nurse who have just joined.

As part of the NHS 70th Birthday celebrations, the campaign saw patients, staff and public nominating people who have made an exceptional contribution to patient care, services and local communities over the last 70 years.

The campaign, called “Health and Care’s Top 70 Stars” was launched by the NHS Confederation, along with NHS England and NHS Improvement.

The first-place winner was Dr Bijay Sinha, who works as a consultant on a ward at Barts Health NHS Trust known for high discharge rates and low readmission rates.

“My philosophy at my work is, let your work do the talking, not your mouth. I always credit the patients for my success,” he said.

If you missed any of the keynote sessions held throughout Confed18, you can catch them on video.

And lastly, here’s the roundup from the morning of day two.

Thank you, see you at Confed19! 

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