As we welcome a new year, our Chair, Dr Michael Dixon, looks back at what The College of Medicine has achieved in the last 12 months, and what the year ahead looks like for our organisation…
‘2022 was a mix of highs and lows. The joy of seeing restrictions of the pandemic finally eased was spoilt by a soaring cost of living crisis – sparked by inflation and an energy crisis that is now forcing many to live in poverty and relying on food banks.
Of course, it will be the Government’s job to produce fundamental and innovative solutions that will reverse the deep rooted inequalities in our society – which mean that the poor can earn too little and the rich earn too much and which are a major cause of poor health and misery. Nevertheless, as Sir Michael Marmot said at our conference in March, social prescribing is perhaps the most important way in which we can redress at community level some of those nationally caused inequalities.
During the year and following our conference on social prescription (with over 500 attendees) we have been developing the concept of social prescription for children and young people, in schools, prisons and for forces veterans. Internationally, with the National Academy of Social Prescription (NASP), we now have over 22 countries as part of the Global Alliance taking social prescription forward. It is a message of hope in what can sometimes seem a rather cruel and heartless world.
Meanwhile, there have been many other hope filled highlights in our calendar this year. Our Integrative and Personalised Medicine conference took place in June at the QEII Hall in Westminster and marked a moment in history, when 1,200 healthcare professionals (representing conventional, integrative, functional, lifestyle, environmental, complementary and holistic medicine) gathered in the heart of London. Among them were 400 young doctors looking for something different and I believe that they have found it.
Our Beyond Pills Campaign was launched at the House of Lords in the summer and has been making headlines ever since with heartwarming, community based stories showing how social prescribing can be a powerful tool in our armoury against obesity, mental health and many long term diseases. With cross party support and increasing popular and media momentum, this stands at the core of our belief that we must concentrate more on non-medical interventions for self-care and improving health if we want a sustainable health service.
In March, the Integrated Medicine Alliance brought together all the main complementary modalities and their leaders and is now working hard to support the health service with information and resources that also further our mission of conserving conventional medical resources for when they are absolutely necessary.
Meanwhile, during 2022, we have continued to run our many free, online classes, which began at the height of lockdown. These have included various forms of yoga including laughter yoga, Tai Chi, food information and cooking and various forms of mind/body therapies. Sarah Bazin’s daily exercise class has continued through think and thin, while hypnotist Freddy Jacquin’s Free Friday Therapy at Four remains one of the College’s most well attended sessions.
And of course there is so much more that I could say about our many other pieces of work. For instance, bringing like minded integrated GP practices together, twinning farms with GP practices and running courses for our International Emerging Health Leaders.
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One of the most poignant and memorable College events this year was our international seminar on allergy, chaired by Sir Stephen Holgate (Chair of our Scientific Advisory Council) on 6th/7th September.
It was at Dumfries House hosted by His Majesty, then HRH The Prince of Wales, supported by Nadim and Tanya Laperouse, whose daughter Natasha tragically died from a peanut allergy on a flight from London to Nice. It was a conference where world class scientists reflected many of the themes espoused by HRH over the years – how manipulation of our environment has become a cause of increasing allergy.
As he left the seminar that evening, HRH The Prince of Wales empathised with Nadim and Tanya on the awful events surrounding the death of their daughter. This was to be his last engagement as HRH The Prince of Wales as the following day his remarkable mother died and he became our King.
That leads me only to thank our amazing staff – Suzanne, Colleen and AJ so well led by Amanda King our previous Chief Officer – now deservedly promoted to Chief Executive this year. Lastly, thanks go to all of you for your support of the College and its mission. It is only through you that we can spread the word and create a world that promotes health and healing without always resorting to pills and medical procedures.
Happy Christmas, and I look forward to seeing you in the New Year!’