Changing the conversation about health

Chair’s newsletter: What’s ahead for The College of Medicine?

Dr Michael Dixon, The College of Medicine Chair, reveals a busy summer calendar in his latest address…

“Our cold spring is struggling to get to summer but we can look forward to warmer days with the Coronation of our Patron, who has championed so many important and once controversial causes from climate change and natural diversity to social prescribing. 

On the 17th May, I will be chairing this year’s Primary Care and Public Health conference sessions for GPs at the NEC in Birmingham. The proportion of the NHS budget allotted to primary care has fallen from around 10% to 7% over the past few years and the number of GPs has dropped to levels of 25 years ago and still falling. General practice and its patients have been betrayed and it will be interesting to gauge the response of the GPs at the conference.

The College of Medicine’s Chair, Dr Michael Dixon, looks ahead to the summer in his latest newsletter

Our big event will be the three-day congress on Integrative & Personalised Medicine on the 29th/30th June and the 1st July at the QEII Centre in London.  This will be a coming together of all those with an interest in integrative care and writ large will be the College’s Beyond Pills Campaign, which is now supported by politicians of all parties, and the majority of Royal Colleges and health organisations. 

Sir Sam Everington (Vice Chair of the College) will be chairing the first day and other College luminaries will be starring such as Simon Mills (College Lead for Self Care) speaking on herbal medicine, Mr Michael Dooley (College Treasurer and Women’s Clinical Lead) chairing sessions on women’s health, and Dr Harry Brunjes (Vice Chair of the College) will be presenting “ENO Breathe”, which incidentally was already being used in a local community in Singapore when I visited a week ago, and he will also be interviewing actress Jenny Seagrove and discussing mental health issues.

Saturday 1st July will see yet another inspiring programme on “Food on Prescription” and a welcome return to the conference of Patrick Holden speaking on food production and sustainability.  Patrick co-leads with myself the College’s project which is twinning farms and GP practices.  

The congress will also see the launch of the College’s initiative “Eating for Mental Health” which is being led by Harvard Psychiatrist and expert on nutrition Dr Uma Naidoo.  These three days will be a unique opportunity for us to meet again, share experiences and challenges, and also learn about current research from the experts.  It is also a shop window for those new to the whole area of integrative medicine, showing how our professional lives and effectiveness can be so much improved by being able to offer a far wider range of solutions to the problems that our patients present, as well as new options to encourage self-care and improve the health of our communities.

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The 13th July will see a Westminster Health Forum on Next Steps for Social Prescribing in England, where I have been asked to give the keynote speech at a time when the Global Social Prescribing Alliance – supported by the United Nations and WHO – is gaining immense momentum within the National Academy for Social Prescribing.  An increasing number of countries – including recently the Netherlands – are going for comprehensive coverage of their population with social prescribing.  The College and our Patron have led this from the beginning and this momentum is important as social prescribing heads for a UK national review in 2024. 

The College is approaching a critical stage in its development.  Increasingly we are being asked by mainstream politicians and managers in the UK and abroad as to how future health systems should look.  As we break through the glass ceiling of establishment thinking, there is always the danger that we too may become too orthodox, conventional and taking the easy path rather than the right way forward.  It is an ever-present danger but be reassured that the College will always remain radical, committed, passionate and different, and always a home and place of respite for those that share our values.”