Thank you so much for all the lovely feedback I've received about my speech. Addressing conference for my first time as your Chair was a daunting, but exhilarating experience and a chance for me to bring to light an issue that is all too familiar in our surgeries, as well as being very close to my heart.
Loneliness and social isolation, as I said, are akin to chronic long-term conditions in terms of the adverse impact they can have on our patients' health and wellbeing. They are certainly not medical problems, but they can't be ignored if we are to be patient-centred in our approach and avoid over-medicalising the issues patients present with. Of course, in order to be able to address them, we need the time, resources and people. GPs need the time to care.
We then heard from Secretary of State for Health in England Jeremy Hunt. Thank you for giving him a 'respectful and professional' welcome.
His speech included a number of (what I hope will be) very positive developments: an extension of the already successful Targeted Enhanced Recruitment Scheme which is offering £20,000 bursaries to become GPs in under-doctored areas; and a clear pledge to move to a state-backed scheme to cover medical indemnity within 18 months.
Escalating indemnity costs are one of the major issues of our time in general practice - and the College has been working incredibly hard, along with our colleagues from the GPC, to put pressure on the government to do something about it.
Yesterday's announcement was welcome, but the devil will be in the detail – and critically, we need to know how the indemnity situation will be addressed in the devolved nations.
It's lovely to be meeting so many of you here in Liverpool - I even bumped into a second cousin I had never met before! Your support and words of encouragement are truly inspiring and uplifting.
You have put so much faith in me and, as I said yesterday, I will do everything I possibly can during my time as your Chair to improve your working lives and restore pride to our profession.
Next week I will update you on the final part of the conference, but until then, for those of you who haven't been able to join us, I hope you've found the bulletins from our media partner GPonline useful. There are many, many more articles on GPonline, which you can find here. You can also watch videos from all of our plenary sessions on the annual conference website here. Do take a look - perhaps it will encourage you to join us in Glasgow next year for what I regard as the finest GP conference in the world!
- Professor Stokes-Lampard is Chair of the RCGP