Changing the conversation about health

Chairman’s New Year message: a look back at 2016, and our plans for the future

Our conference on plants opens in June.

Happy New Year to all our members and supporters.  The turn of the year is a good time to reflect on the past and to plan for the future.

2016 in a nutshell…

In reflective mood, a very big thank you to all of those who have contributed to our success over the past year either by participating or helping with some of our events.  Our conferences on ‘Health and the Arts’ and ‘Food. The forgotten Medicine’ were landmark events that have launched initiatives to take forward policy, thinking and action in these two areas.

Social prescription

Social prescription, hardly known about a year ago, is on a fast trajectory.  We co-hosted the first meeting of those involved in social prescription in January with 100 attending. Following our House of Commons launch in March and support from NHS England, our National Social Prescribing Network now numbers over 600.

Eight Clinical Commissioning Groups are providing social prescription for all their GPs and patients, while 49% of CCGs are involved in some way or another.  It is now part of national policy and the College’s vision of every patient and every GP being able to access social prescription is now a real possibility.

Health Service Sustainability conference

As with our other conferences, our annual conference on Health Service Sustainability was also fully booked and the accompanying video by HRH The Prince of Wales can be seen here.  We held our first College Foundation Course in November, which was also full, and students from the course (two of whom wrote reviews here and here) are already leading initiatives locally.

Our annual student conference in Birmingham focussing this year on mental health has reinforced the College’s role of inspiring clinicians in all areas to work together and go beyond the purely biomedical.

At the tail end of the year, a small group of national leaders in farming, food provision, retail and experts in nutrition laid the first planks of a major College initiative to enable access to good food for all.  In November, Steve McGann (Dr Patrick Turner in “Call the Midwife”) reminded us of the importance of clinicians that are prepared to go the last mile, while Harry Brunjes and Andrew Johns, gave us a gruesome, thoughtful and entertaining account of what happens and why, when healers become murderers at our Christmas Party.  All these amazing events were all possible because of our wonderful and ceaselessly working Chief Officer, Amanda King, supported by Kate Smith (website) and Ellie Crossley (Students) and our brilliant Students wearing their College of Medicine T-shirts,who have been volunteers at all of our events.

Events coming up in 2017

Plant conference
We will be holding a practical conference on the use of plants and herbs at the Surgeons/Barbers Hall on 8th June. Full details here.

Food. The future Medicine
Join us at the Royal Society of Medicine on 14th September. Booking is not yet open, but you can express an interest here.

Social prescription
On 18th May, we will be co-hosts of a major national conference and launch of social prescription at the King’s Fund.

In the autumn, we will once again host our third national conference on health service sustainability.

 More College Foundation courses
This year, we will be holding two College of Medicine two-day Foundation courses. These are a must for any clinician that wants to start ‘looking out the box’.
Dates: Bristol, first week of July tbc; Dumfries House, East Ayrshire; 16th – 17th November.

Integrated Health diploma
Our Integrated Health Diploma course in partnership with the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine in Bristol will begin in September 2017 and for those applying we are also offering five scholarships.

Our student summer conference will, once again, be held in Birmingham.

These are just some of the events that we have already planned for 2017 and, as always, we need your suggestions for other events and initiative’s that you feel that we should be leading.  There is only one caveat here and that is that if you make a suggestion then please be prepared to lead it on behalf of the College!

Preparing for a year of tidal change

It now seems, thank goodness, that there are sufficient clinicians and people that really care for us to be able to change the current medical paradigm for ever and create a sustainable health service.

2017 is likely to witness a tidal change.  The limited resources of the NHS and our inability to effectively combat the great diseases of our time – obesity, diabetes, depression and cancer – require a new mindset.  It is this new mind-set that the College is now leading and word is getting round with NHS England now also saying that we need ‘to look beyond the purely biomedical’ and social prescription is going viral.  Whole person care – mind, body and spirit, encouraging people to change their lifestyle, encouraging personal and social responsibility, exploring complementary options, going beyond the biomedical and mind/body medicine are now moving from peripheral to mainstream.  You and the College, patients and clinicians are leading this.

We are ambitious and though outside apathy and self-interest have been our enemy it now seems, thank goodness, that there are sufficient clinicians and people that really care for us to be able to change the current medical paradigm for ever and create a sustainable health service, sustainable and health creating communities, patients that are better able to self-care and maintain their personal health and restore the NHS’s values of altruism and goodwill at local and national level – all of which are the only possible means of our mutual survival.

Thank you again for all that you have done for us during the year.  Please attend our events, become members or ‘Friends’ and tell others about us because our only hope of success is to persuade a critical mass of the urgency of our mission.

Dr Michael Dixon
College of Medicine