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Policy blog: Day two at Conservative Party conference

Cameron Miller, Head of Policy & Public Affairs, reports from the 2018 Conservative Party annual conference

Cameron Miller, Head of Policy & Public Affairs, reports from the 2018 Conservative Party annual conference

Tuesday at Conservative Party Conference was a chance to get around the exhibition and see what our friends in other organisations are up to.

The Alzheimer’s Society had an incredible stand to highlight the cost of care for those affected by Alzheimer’s and the NFU managed to get an entire tractor into the hall, which was quite a sight.

Lots of the fringe events at this stage of conference season are repeating topics that have already been covered so the focus was also on Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s, Matt Hancock, speech and what he has planned for the NHS.

Ahead of that, in the morning there were reports that there would be a new three week waiting target for cancer diagnosis.

We know that many brain tumour patients take significant periods of time to be diagnosed and multiple visits to their GP.

This means many will be referred for immediate tests at any possible sign of cancer. Though due to be piloted in breast, bowel, prostate and lung, we hope that this will have the knock on impact to improve brain tumour diagnoses’.

During the speech he mentioned a personal story of his sister who had a near fatal brain injury last year and whom was saved by the incredible service delivered by Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

He also stated that cancer rates are at a record high, which is true, but they are still lagging behind much of Europe and for those diagnosed with a less survivable cancer face a survival rate of 14% over five years.

This is one of the many reasons we have joined forces with five other charities that represent the other diseases, to ask for a survival target specifically for these disease areas which will encourage NHS England to make the positive changes that are needed to see this improve.

There was also a real push on new technology. Though he was keen to emphasise that this was not about IT and actually about the NHS being capable of embracing cutting edge opportunities.

This is something that is clearly a fantastic aim and we completely support, but we know from our creation of BRIAN, that the NHS and arms lengths bodies are not always set up to support opportunities when they present themselves. So it feels like a long way to go.