September is always a busy period for the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, and especially this year as we have been able to take the findings and recommendations of the Improving Lives Saving Money campaign on the road to the party conferences.
First up on our tour of Britain was our visit to the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. It was an opportunity for us to meet and discuss key issues with an opposition refreshed with energy after a surprising electoral result in early June. Highlights were meeting Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders, Labour’s team in the House of Lords and Julie Cooper, the Shadow Minister (Health) (Community Health). We also had a productive conversation with the Socialist Health Association to talk about the Greater Manchester devolution deal and how the professions should take a stake in the implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs).
In their speeches to the hall, Labour’s health spokespeople in the Shadow Cabinet, Jon Ashworth and Barbara Keeley, both praised healthcare workers; Ashworth’s message to NHS workers was, “you have our gratitude, our backing and you have our commitment that a Labour Government will tackle vacancies, will bring back bursaries and scrap the pay cap to deliver fair pay for you all.” Keeley raised the problem of delayed discharges, an issue the Royal College have been tackling head on – as explained most clearly in our first Improving Lives Saving Money report published in November 2016.
Particularly heartening was Labour’s very positive regard for those that work in public services, and Jeremy Corbyn reiterated this in his speech to the hall. From Labour, we are keen to see more detail on how they will deliver change in health and care and specifically what role they see the STPs playing.
Our next stop is the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester and we look forward to updating members on our discussions with key decision makers in next month’s instalment.
While the campaign’s two major reports so far, in November 2016 and July 2017, were focused on highlighting areas of care that occupational therapists have improved the patient experience and reduced the overall burden of cost to the NHS, we have also been hard at work demonstrating the value of working in partnership with other public services. Building on the last report, our latest short paper highlights how Fire and Rescue Services have worked in partnership with occupational therapists to enhance the safety, wellbeing and health of vulnerable people in communities. The paper has been endorsed by the National Fire Chiefs Council.