General practice is facing a serious crisis. A lack of investment, increased demand and poor staff retention have put the profession under unprecedented pressure.
Earlier this year, the British Social Attitudes survey revealed that public satisfaction with GP services was at its lowest level since records began.
But while delegates at the Primary Care Conference could agree that times are tough, there was also a note of optimism as medical experts discussed how to turn a crisis into an opportunity.
Could these turbulent times be the catalyst for much-needed disruption and innovation?
Delegates at the Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare Conference heard how clinicians can use algorithms to quickly analyse vast amount of patient data to predict health outcomes.
“If we bring together all the data that we use, then soon we could be able predict with a reasonable certainty whether someone is going to have diabetes later in life, for example,” said Daniel Hallen, head of digital technology for NHS in England (North).
“It’s rapidly developing as we start to develop new technologies, things like Fitbits and those sort of things that are able to do an awful lot more. What would have required a super computer to do in the past, can now be done in a handheld device. We are on the cusp of something really exciting.”
Delegates attended Salford Professional Development’s FGM Conference to hear social workers, campaigners and FGM survivors discuss the latest work to protect vulnerable young girls who may be at risk.
The NHS recorded more than 5,000 new cases of FGM in 2017 alone. Despite this, in the three decades since FGM was made a criminal offence no one has ever been convicted.
“There are so many things in the media at the moment about FGM, some of it is positive around some of the great work that is being done, but there are so many different voices,” said Leethen Bartholomew, head of the National FGM Centre.
Speaking at the Physiotherapy Conference 2018, Linda Hindle, PHE’s lead for allied health professionals, explained the importance of making every patient contact count.
“If you look at the news pretty much any day you couldn’t fail to notice that the health and social care system is under serious pressure,” she said.
“If we don’t radically change the way we provide care then the future of the whole system will be at risk.
“Focusing on prevention is one of the changes that is central to this, and it’s a core part of the NHS Five Year Forward View.”
Delegates attended the Enhancing Student Experience Conference 2018 to hear how the HE sector can attract and retain students by delivering better value, on campus, in halls of residence and in the lecture theatre.
Uncertainty about the implications of Brexit, the introduction of the Office for Students and the impact of disruptive technology on the labour market mean there has never been a more uncertain time to be in higher education.
Delegates at The Assistive Technology Conference heard how unprecedented developments in everything from prosthetics to artificial intelligence (AI) can help disabled people find new careers, stay in work and live independent lives.
“AT is a strength in this country and there are some great products on show in the exhibition area today,” said conference chair John Lamb, executive director of the British Assistive Technology Association.
“I am amazed at how quickly technologies such as AI are developing.”
Yet despite the increasing affordability and availability of AT, many disabled people and employers remain unaware of the wide variety of support on offer. The rapid pace of technological development in recent years also presents a significant challenge.
Speaking at the Enhancing Student Experience Conference 2018, Dr Sam Grogan argued that students should instead be viewed as “co-producers of their future self”.
Likening tuition fees to a gym membership, Dr Grogan said students must be encouraged to play a more active role in their own academic and professional development.
More than 30 years after female genital mutilation (FGM) was made illegal in the UK, thousands of new cases of this cruel and dangerous practice are still reported every year. In 2017 alone, the NHS recorded more than 5,000 new cases.
Despite this, in the three decades since FGM was made a specific crime, only two cases have ever reached court and no one has ever been convicted of the offence. These statistics underline the argument that legislation alone is not enough to achieve the goal of eradicating FGM by 2030.
The FGM Conference 2018 will explore how only multi-agency co-operation and community engagement can bring FGM to an end. Calling on the experiences of campaigners, healthcare practitioners and FGM survivors, this event is invaluable for anyone working in a role with safeguarding responsibilities.
The UK employment rate is at near record levels. But for 4.6 million disabled people, a lack of support is stopping them from participating in the labour market and contributing to the economy. As well as preventing individuals from finding fulfilling work and leading independent lives, these levels of economic inactivity and wasted potential costs the UK an estimated £100bn a year.
What more can be done to fulfil the government’s pledge to get one million more disabled people into work in the next ten years and help everyone to “thrive in the workplace”?
The Assistive Technology Conference 2018 will explore potential solutions to the many workplace challenges faced by disabled people and those with long-term health conditions.
The most authoritative voices in disability access will discuss how new innovations are removing barriers to employment and debate what more can be done to improve access to the latest software and technology.
Health is the wealth of a nation.
Every country needs a healthy population to work and support the economy, and hence every country has a duty to provide the safest and the best healthcare to every citizen.
The NHS and the social care system are true British icons and I am so proud of these two great institutions.
Staff are the best asset that the NHS has and we must make sure staff happiness, staff engagement and staff wellbeing are treated with the same importance as patient safety and care quality.