Confed19 - highlights from day two

David Williams

The second and final day Confed19 delivered some hard-hitting questions and stark realities, as well as examples of inspirational practice. 

In a stirring main stage session, Professor David Williams of Harvard University discussed how addressing health inequalities can drive better care and a more engaged workforce. He also presented sobering statistics on the impact of discrimination on health and opportunities for BME communities.  

"We have to think of the ways implicit bias has shaped the policy we've developed and the procedures that sustain racial inequality within our organisations," Prof Williams said. 

He also described the "empathy gap", in which there is a more positive empathetic neural response to the pain of others of our own race than someone of a different race.  

"This is a global phenomenon," he said. "Research finds that the absence of empathy shapes policy preferences in profound ways." 

“People need to learn from childhood that they must look at a person not as a race, sexual orientation, gender or other characteristic, but as an individual,” said Prof Wiliams. 


In conversation 

In our ‘In conversation with...’ zone, Channel Four’s health and social care correspondent Victoria Macdonald hosted six interviews with key figures including Baroness Dido Harding, chief people officer Prerana Issar and national medical director Steve Powis. 

Victoria pulled no punches in her joint interview with Dido Harding and Prerana Issar, opening the questions with: “Is the NHS going to hell in a handcart?” Dido Harding responded with a vehement “No,” but said around engagement, recruitment and retention there is “a chronic problem but if we just listen to our people we can be massively better.” 

In his interview, Steve Powis formally announced the roll-out of stroke teams across the country to ensure thousands more people ‘survive and thrive.’ 

You can read our response to the announcement on the Confed website.  

‘The edge of a revolution’ 

During a breakout session on providing care closer to home, there were key insights led by David Pearson, Independent Chair of Nottinghamshire ICS, who said: “I think we're on the edge of a revolution in this country [in health and social care] if we grasp the opportunity. I now see the conditions that best enable this to happen.” 

He added: “What we're trying to do is integrate health and care better. Importantly, we're trying to integrate health and care with wider services - 80% of people's health and wellbeing is not related to what statutory services do.” 

What allows some conditions to be eradicated but not others? That was the question posed by Joe Rafferty of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, exploring how we can prevent suicide. Delegates heard a powerful personal account from Living Experience consultant Steve Gilbert OBE while Mr Rafferty encouraged everyone to take part in the Zero Suicide Alliance’s suicide prevention training

Veteran mental health was the focus of a session in the Mental Health Zone, which heard from the Ripple Pond Charity and Combat Stress, whose psychology lead Lee Robinson said: “PTSD is not the only problem veterans experience.” Take a look at key moments from the session

‘Take pride in the last 12 months’ 

In a video address played on the main stage, Secretary of State Matt Hancock said everyone should take pride in the achievements of the last 12 months, including the NHS Long Term Plan and investment, the first-ever People Plan, the first Chief People Officer, an agreement with junior doctors and a breakthrough on pensions. 

He said: “All of this is about recognising and valuing the work that people do across the NHS because we have got to have a goal that the NHS should not just be the biggest employer in the country, also the best.” 

Shared values  

Closing the conference, NHS Confederation chair Stephen Dorrell argued we need to reflect on shared values as we integrate services better. 

“Integrated care means building communities that work for the people who live in them,” he said, adding that the NHS cannot be “a city on a hill”, it must be part of local public services. 

With the unusual events in Westminster, Mr Dorrell urged the audience not to “disavow politics”. He said being engaged in a public space providing a public good. That is political. 

“Never believe that a committed group armed with a powerful idea can’t make a difference. The truth is that it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

Thank you, and see you next year 

Thanks to everyone who joined us here in Manchester this year, we hope you enjoyed your time with us. And join us next year on 10 and 11 June for ConfedExpo, when we are joining forces with NHS England and NHS Improvement to bring together two long-standing conferences to create the biggest and most significant healthcare conference in the UK. We look forward to seeing you there.  

For more commentary on the two days of activity at Confed19, take a look at our live blog

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