Having just returned from her honeymoon Nicola joined Conservatives, charities, public sector representatives, journalists, trade unions and industry representatives from across the country at the annual Party Conference, held in Birmingham this year.
She held several face-to-face meetings with important charities and other stakeholders relevant to her new role as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Innovation. Nicola has been busy meeting representatives from key organisations like Public Health England, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and NHS England at the Department, and so used the opportunity to meet with interest groups at Conference to discuss important challenges and priorities.
She met with:
Issues raised included workforce training; data collection and usage; clinical trials and research;the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, and of course Brexit. Nicola will be taking these conversations back to the Department and continuing to meet with research organisations and charities with officials.
The Health Secretary, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, also made an important speech, announcing an increase in the number of medical student training places in England from 6,000 to 7,500 to ensure that more young people in the UK with the right skills can have the opportunity to train to become and doctor and to ensure our NHS is self-sufficient.
Jeremy Hunt has made mental health a personal priority, and Nicola is also taking forward mental health policies as part of her role. She was greatly encouraged to hear the Government will commit an extra £12.5million to the Time to Change mental health campaign over the next four years. This funding will be supplemented by funding from Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund, and the Time to Change campaign is run by charities Rethink and Mind, aiming to reduce stigma surrounding mental health and ensuring more people get help faster.
For more of the Health Secretary’s speech see here.
Nicola says: It was great to meet with so many important charities and organisations at Conference, all of which have innovative ideas to help improve our health services and raise awareness of public health issues. Today was just the start of a longer conversation and I will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure we fully utilise the UK’s fantastic research base in our health system.