Audiences were blown away by a global health expert at one of Wales’s biggest health conferences.
The Bevan Commission held their annual conference at the Great Hall in Swansea University’s Bay Campus which saw more than 500 delegates listen to world-leading health inequalities expert Sir Michael Marmot.
The Bevan Commission is an independent think tank made up of international experts who help challenge current NHS thinking and practice to ensure it is fit for the future. It also provides its advice to Welsh Government on all matters relating to health, the NHS and social care in Wales.
Bevan Commission Director Helen Howson said the conference allowed delegates to be part of the urgent conversation to find realistic and sustainable solutions to the very real challenges faced by the NHS today.
She said: “It was great to see the passion staff in the NHS, academia and industry have for the Bevan Commission. The day was full of engaging sessions which looked at new ways of thinking and new ways of working.
“We also saw the Commission trending on social media for most of the day which shows the appetite in Wales to see innovation adopted to transform the way we provide health care. And the audience was blown away by Bevan Commissioner Sir Michael Marmot who delivered a very thought-provoking speech about health inequalities.”
Sir Michael Marmot who serves as one of the 24 Bevan Commissioners told the amused audience at the Great Hall about his recent Twitter spat with Health Minister Jeremy Hunt. Sir Michael, Professor of Epidemiology at University College London, previously chaired a government-commissioned review into health inequalities, said improvements in life expectancy in Britain have almost “ground to a halt” since 2010, citing figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Mr Hunt challenged these claims on social media, saying that life expectancy was continuing to rise significantly and citing the same statistics quoted by Sir Michael.
Sir Michael told delegates how he had responded to the tweet, writing: “What are you saying? That ONS got its figures wrong and rise of life expectancy has NOT slowed since 2010? If ONS is correct, let’s discuss”.
Other conference keynote speakers included Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing & Sport and Dr Andrew Goodall, NHS Wales Director General.
Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing & Sport, told the conference about the importance of leadership in responding to change and driving innovation in the NHS in Wales and the vital role the Bevan Commission plays in leading this change.
He said: “We need confident leaders to enable change. Leadership applies to all levels and settings of the NHS – not just at board level. We all need to take ownership of the change required to transform the NHS in Wales.
“The Bevan Commission plays a vital role in supporting our NHS staff to innovate and to become leaders of change.”
The Bevan Commission has launched its latest White Paper the first in a series called “Exploiting the Welsh Health Legacy”. Helen Howson added: “This challenging paper ‘A New Way of Thinking’ calls for a different model for health and care in Wales - moving away from the more traditional medical model and one which takes account of the wider social determinants of health such as housing and employment. “This proposed new model recognises the shared responsibility of society starting with the individual. It promotes innovation and new ways of thinking and working but also places the responsibility of improving health and wellbeing across society as a whole.”