Taking the road less travelled

With this year's Summit bringing a fresh perspective on the biggest issues facing health and social care, Andy McKeon reveals more about what we can look forward to.

Blog post

Published: 28/02/2019

This is a significant time for the NHS, with the Long Term Plan published and more money coming in, even if there are vital questions to be settled on social care and funding for public health.

This year's Summit will discuss in detail different areas that are all critical to improvement and success – integrated care, workforce, digital development, social care and the health of our children and young people. The latter continues to not get the attention it deserves, and is an area where the UK’s record is mediocre at best.

So far so familiar, you might say. But our purpose is to put the NHS and social care into context and to bring a wider, fresh perspective to known issues. We will do this domestically and internationally. At a time when some think the UK is retreating into an insular and separatist mindset – reminiscent of that old newspaper headline "Fog in the Channel, Continent cut off" – and others think we should be ‘going global’, well, the Summit will be European and global, never narrow and parochial.

The first session sets the context. Sir Andrew Dilnot, Warden of Nuffield College Oxford and chair of the Dilnot Review on social care, will give his deeply knowledgeable view of the changing welfare state – which today needs help from charitable foodbanks at one hand but heralds genomic medicine breakthroughs at the other.

Looking further afield

The next session addresses innovation in integrated home care – a critical area for success in any sustainability transformation partnership. The session starts by drawing on Finnish experience. Every country has to find its own way in health and social care based on its history, culture and the institutions and possibilities at the time. But there are always concepts and approaches from abroad that may spark ideas at home.

Perhaps digital technology is the exception to that rule, given the global reach of Facebook, Google, Instagram and others. Now, hands up who would look to Portugal as a global digital exemplar? Well you should. Caiscais Hospital is one of only three in Europe to be awarded HIMMS 7 status where the electronic medical record reigns supreme and paper charts are nowhere to be seen. We have their Chief Executive and the Chief Medical Information Officer to give us their experience, accompanied by Sophie Castle-Clarke, the Trust’s digital programme lead, and Tara Donnelly, the Chief Digital Officer at NHS England.

Global learning and different perspectives carry over into the afternoon. To see how a government can grasp the issues of an ageing population, we should look to Japan. Natasha Curry, Senior Fellow in Health Policy at the Trust, will lead a discussion on social care reform based on her research into Japan and upcoming work on Germany. Alex Fox, Chief Executive of Shared Lives Plus, will give a different slant on making something innovative and productive out of the crises in care and housing.

Workforce and the importance of kindness

Workforce problems are endemic to health and social care. Candace Imison will lead a session for the Trust with Richard Murray from the King’s Fund and Anita Charlesworth from the Health Foundation – an exceptionally high-powered group. They have been working together to find practical ways of tackling the workforce issues. If you want to hear a fresh perspective through bold solutions, this session is the one.

Kindness and compassion are something we expect from NHS and social care staff. They are the soul of care and, indeed, of society more widely. So to complement Andrew Dilnot’s dissection of the changing welfare state, Julia Unwin, who chaired the recent Independent Inquiry into the future of civil society, will assess the consequences of continuing to ignore kindness and emotion in public policy-making – a very different and unique way of reframing policy.

Kindness and compassion should be the hallmark of society’s relationship with children. If so, it isn’t reflected in our attention to children and young people’s health. Last year we published a report on health in early childhood with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which showed that health outcomes for young children in the UK are now worse than in many similar countries. Last week we published a follow-up report with the Association for Young People’s Health into health outcomes for young people aged 10 to 24. It makes similarly sobering reading. Taken together, these reports are an indictment of our care for children and young people whose needs have been poorly prioritised over the last decade. So I am pleased we have this on the Summit agenda.

Last but not least

I am also pleased that Simon Stevens will immediately follow. I know that he has recognised the importance of giving children and young people’s health greater priority and the Long Term Plan signals a welcome change of emphasis. With Nick Timmins holding the ring, this is the opportunity to ask Simon about the plan and its implementation, as well as any other burning issues.

Nigel Edwards will be guiding us through the two days with his inimitable brand of facilitation, combining knowledge, insight and wit in equal measure. I’m looking forward to it, and to the new venue at Windsor. But, fortunately some things don’t change – if you can’t be there you can always tune in to the live stream on our website.

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