Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard: Reflecting on an incredible Annual Conference so far

It's an absolute pleasure to be writing to you this week from Liverpool, amidst yet another incredible RCGP Annual Primary Care Conference.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard

This is my final one as your Chair and I’ve been delighted to welcome so many GPs, trainees and healthcare professionals to debate some of the major issues facing general practice and patient care.

I was so touched to see so many familiar (and new) faces as I delivered my major Conference opening speech yesterday morning.

I reflected on both the positives and negatives around the state of general practice and the wider NHS – as well as highlighting the solutions set out in the College’s own vision for the future of the profession. I spoke about the the need to collaborate, as well as the challenges we face with everything from IT to not having enough time with our patients.

I sounded a clear warning to politicians not to attempt to blindside patients with vote-winning gimmicks, such as access targets, that are simply undeliverable in general practice – but I also (and I really hope this came through) gave a message of hope that there is a bright future ahead for general practice.

You can watch my full speech here.

We also heard from Health and Social Care Secretary in England, Matt Hancock, via video link. I was pleased to hear his recognition that general practice is the bedrock of the NHS, and the need to invest heavily in our service – but I challenged him on progress so far, and the extent to which tech in the NHS needs to improve.

Ironically for such a tech-savvy Secretary of State, his address did have a slightly shaky start tech-wise, but the live stream did actually work! (I’m sure it wouldn’t have done so on my surgery computer that is still running on Windows 7, as I said to him, to much hilarity from the audience - and apparent despair from Matt Hancock!)

Fantastic speakers

Thanks also to our fantastic speakers Dame Clare Marx, Chair of the GMC (particularly for her acknowledgment that the RCGP was ‘arguably the most important medical royal college’) and Professor Becky Malby, who gave us an energetic and challenging account of primary care networks and the role they must play in addressing the social determinants of health. Both speakers gave us all a lot of food for thought.

Of course, conference is more than our plenary speeches – and there have simply been too many amazing sessions, papers and posters presented to go into much detail – but check out our conference website, or search #RCGPAC on Twitter for a flavour of what’s been happening.

Today looks set to be just as busy and vibrant. It was a pleasure to join an august panel of speakers for NHS Question Time with Rosie Bennneyworth, Chief inspector of General Practice, our fantastic outgoing First 5 Committee Chair Jodie Blackadder-Weinstein, passionate Dublin GP Austin O’Carroll and the GPC’s Krishna Kasaraneni. It was all fantastically chaired by my successor Martin Marshall.

What an amazing conference, and what (as I said in my speech) utterly outstanding professionals you all are.

Before I sign off, I have also been to a few other events this week - last weekend I was in Belfast along with College President Mayur Lakhani and the Chairs of all our devolved councils for a new members ceremony. We took the opportunity to thank and congratulate RCGP Northern Ireland Chair Dr Grainne Doran who steps down in a few weeks. She has been outstanding and it was wonderful to be able to celebrate with her and our Northern Irish (and some Irish) colleagues.

I was also so delighted to have been able to speak at this year’s inaugural ‘Inspire Awards’ on Wednesday evening at the iconic Anfield football ground. Huge congratulations to everyone who took part, it was a great celebration of so many of our members’ achievements.

To everyone who has been able to join us for another fantastic RCGP Conference – thank you. This is the biggest and best of its kind and I’m so proud to be here representing our profession with you for another year.

For those who can’t be here in Liverpool, I hope you’ve been able to catch up on some of the sessions and speeches and that you can follow us on social media to see the rich and lively debate.

I look forward to another day of activities tomorrow and to celebrations this evening – and if you’re still here at conference, please do come and say hello!

  • Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard is chair of the RCGP

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