Changing the conversation about health

The College of Medicine looks to the year ahead – as we prepare to publish our 10-year manifesto

In his festive message, College of Medicine Chair Dr Michael Dixon discusses the unfathomable year that has been 2020, including chinks of light centred around community, kindness and our many, free online classes, which have now reached thousands of people.

Dr Dixon also looks ahead to a very exciting 2021 for the College, as we launch Hope for the Future, a ten-year manifesto for achieving better health, written by pioneering figures in UK health including Sir Sam Everington, Professor Dame Donna Kinnair and Sir Stephen Holgate. (Follow our social media platforms for regular updates!)

The College would like to offer a huge thanks for all of your support in what has been the toughest of years. Here’s Dr Dixon’s message in full:

‘Happy Christmas to all members of the College and those who follow our progress.  2020 was a gloomy year in so many respects especially with the burden of hardship falling on those, who have least. 

,College Chair, Dr Michael Dixon (pictured with the College’s Chief Officer, Amanda King, in December 2019) reflects on an extraordinary year dominated by the pandemic – and announces the launch our new manifesto ‘Hope for the Future’ in January 2021

Our Chief Officer, Amanda King, and her team have nobly kept the lights on with a vast array of virtual classes and events including yogaQigongmindfulnesslight physical exercisebreathing exercisesself-hypnosis and cooking advice to name a few. 

Our tenth anniversary passed under the shadow of COVID-19 and one of the great sadnesses of the year, for me, was not being able to meet so many of you in the flesh and catch up with your work and events. 

But…!  From the first day of January 2021, we will be blazing into action with our Manifesto for the next ten years “Hope for the Future“! 

It is a closely written piece of work with bold and imaginative proposals, which will mark the expansion of the College with a number of new Faculties.  Following the scourge of COVID-19, our call to redefine medicine has become more urgent than ever – indeed it is a call that is now being taken up by a number of Royal Colleges.  

An exciting year ahead: Hope for the Future, the College’s ten-year plan, is published in January 2021

A couple of weeks later in mid-January, we will launch the Integrated Medicine Alliance bringing together the leaders of many complementary health organisations to provide patients, clinicians and policy makers with information on the various complementary modalities, which will be needed in a post COVID-19 world, where patient choice is better respected, requirements for evidence of efficacy are more proportionate to the seriousness of the disease and the safety of the intervention, and where benefit versus risk are better balanced. 

We already saw this in 2020 with the College advocating from the very beginning of the year that people should think about taking Vitamin D, while the National Institute for Clinical Excellence continued to say the evidence was insufficient, but the Secretary of State has now supported it being given to the vulnerable on the basis of the balance between cost, benefit and safety. 

On the 4th/5th March, the College of Medicine’s National Social Prescribing Network will launch its third international conference showcasing Greater Manchester. 


This will be a virtual conference bringing together the biggest names in the UK and abroad to examine where social prescribing has got to, where it needs to go next and to exchange experiences and challenges and explore all the beneficial ripple effects that social prescribing is beginning to demonstrate.  Click to book your tickets for this virtual conference.

Mid-Summer will see our fourth conference on healthy eating, which has a working title of “Food on Prescription 2” with its strong brand and message for everyone.  Expect to see some of the prominent speakers of past conferences, who are now firmly rooted on the national stage and also some new faces such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who recently became a member of the College of Medicine and our Lead for Sustainable Fishing. 

Going online…the College successfully held – and continues to hold – free health sessions including mindfulness, yoga and hypnosis

In the autumn, we are brazenly announcing our first non-virtual conference – the European Congress of Integrative Medicine (5th-7th November)) which this year is being hosted by the United Kingdom at the QEII Centre in Westminster with the College as a lead host with an increasing number of international organisations such as the US Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine and wide range of prestigious organisations.  It promises to be a landmark event in terms of taking integrated/integrative medicine forward in the UK, Europe and the wider world.  Click to register for this event.

These are just some of the events that we will be hosting next year.  But the College is more than a collection of events and educational opportunities.  It is a movement.  A social movement of people who want to see medicine open its doors and embrace a wider range of possibilities, to connect more usefully to its communities and become part of a sustainable solution for ourselves, our communities and the planet itself.

We had a ball! (On Zoom) The College celebrated its 10th anniversary in October

There are some who, in the past, have smiled at our ideals – but if you don’t have ideals you don’t have anything to aim for.  We are aiming high because already with our initiatives on social prescribing, food as medicine and encouraging medicine to go beyond pills and procedures, we are gaining traction in a confused world, where too many people suffer and where we are now all looking for something better. 

That “better” is hope and that is why we have called our manifesto “Hope for the Future”.  

Happy Christmas and I look forward to working with all of you in a very busy and hopefully more sociable New Year!’