Medicine 2019: RCP beyond 500

Medicine 2019 kicked off today with the first plenary session ‘RCP beyond 500’. Chaired by Professor Cheng-Hock Toh, academic vice president of the RCP, the session featured a range of speakers, including the president of the RCP, and discussed topics from work at the RCP to the future of the NHS.  

Opening the session, Professor Toh shared that Medicine 2019 has the highest number of delegates for an RCP conference to date, with 938 delegates across 30 specialties and 28 nationalities. He noted that 38% of speakers and chairs are women and 21% are black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME), which reflects the current gender and ethnicity balance in the NHS.

First to present was Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the RCP, who shared his opening remarks and priorities for his presidency. His opening remarks focused on giving thanks to the former president Dame Professor Jane Dacre for her influence on the organisation and its culture, highlighting the RCP500 celebrations and achievements of the RCP, and looking forwards to the future.

He highlighted that the key priorities for his presidency would centre on workforce, wellbeing and worldwide, and focused on the rising pressures faced by doctors, and the importance of fostering a good working environment and working with international colleagues. He stated: 'Looking around this room I can see colleagues from many specialties, grades and countries. We have one thing that binds us in common: We all want to provide quality care for our patients and we all want to look after our colleagues.’

We have one thing that binds us in common: We all want to provide quality care for our patients and we all want to look after our colleagues

Professor Andrew Goddard, RCP president

Dr Sarah Richardson, StR in geriatric medicine at the Institute for Ageing at Newcastle University, presented the quincentennial lecture on delirium. She highlighted how delirium is common, serious and distressing, and is associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

The key message from her talk was that it is vital to diagnose and document delirium, and communicate the diagnosis with the patient, their family and their GP: ‘Delirium is preventable in over a third of cases […] delirium may be one of the most potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia and may contribute towards dementia prevention.’

In the third talk of the session, Dr Orod Osanlou (acting consultant in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust) discussed the RCP chief registrar programme – 3 years in. After overviewing the chief registrar programme, he described how the programme has evolved over the past 3 years and provided examples of what chief registrars have achieved from their projects to improve morale, patient care, education and training, and advance and implement HealthTech.

His talk finished on how chief registrars are value for money, and he said ‘chief registrars are likely to have indirect contributions to cost savings through quality/service improvement and improvements to patient safety’.

Sir Robert Francis, chair of Healthwatch England, was the final presenter with his talk what would you like the NHS to look like at 100? At the start of his presentation he emphasised that when looking to the future it should not be forgotten how far the NHS has come in 70 years, and said ‘the NHS has become one of the most valued parts of our society and national health has never been better.’ He focused on public perceptions, and shared results from a 2018 Healthwatch England populous poll that showed that almost a third of people lacked confidence in the future of healthcare. Sir Francis described elements that will be important for the future of the NHS, and focused on communication, safety, effectiveness, care and responsiveness, technology solutions and leadership.

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