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Imagine If Director Kevin Feaviour Speaks at Primary Healthcare Conference

Transforming Primary Healthcare, Guild of Health Writers

There’s a certain amount of pressure that comes with writing a blog piece about a Guild of Health Writers event! “Transforming Primary Healthcare” on 15th February brought together health professionals, journalists, researchers, and policy influencers, including our very own Founding Director, Kevin Feaviour.

We started with Professor Tony Avery (OBE), who reminded us that medicine does work wonders, but whilst it does a lot of good, it can do more harm if not used safely, effectively and appropriately. Professor Avery is the National Clinical Director for Prescribing. He set out the national plan to tackle overprescribing in his presentation, which acknowledged the complexity of the issue, involving systems, culture and individuals.

The importance of the patient’s voice and listening – really, truly listening – was the gold thread through all the speeches. James Humphrey, Director of Woodnewton Associates, working in policy and service design, did his best to sum up the wealth of research into patient experiences and views of the health system in the fast diminishing 7-minute time slot. He highlighted the importance of caring, attentive GPs, something which 4 A* at A Level doesn’t guarantee.

There was a real energy in the room throughout, an energy for change – a move away from “what’s the matter with you” and towards “what matters to you”, as our next speaker Dr Henrietta Hughes, the first ever Patient Safety Commissioner, elegantly put it. She talked about “tying the treads” between branches of the system and care received with multidisciplinary working and learning – all things that also resonate with the work Imagine If is doing.

Even closer to our hearts were the links Dr Laura Marshall-Andrew made between health, wellbeing, social belonging and creativity. Dr Marshall-Andrew has pioneered many solutions using these links in her General Practice in Brighton. I will be spending my weekend trawling through the research she referenced and reading her memoir, What Seems to be The Problem.

Next, Gay Palmer, the Lead Social Prescriber for South Southwark in London had an impressive team of twelve Social Prescribers, with different professional backgrounds and areas of expertise. This is the key to giving the team confidence to have sometimes difficult conversations with patients, as well as each being able to tackle the variety of challenges patients face. She cited debt and financial problems as a reoccurring issue. What does that have to do with health you say? Well, put simply, you’re unlikely to have the mental capacity to listen to your GP when your primary concern is putting food on the table.

Last, but not least, was Kevin. He described the Community HUBs in Cornwall, set up to join the dots between services, connecting people to support and helping them develop the skills and the beliefs needed to utilise that support, whilst creating a sense of belonging. He finished by explaining the Chronic Pain in Cornwall project, which celebrated its formal launch at the Eden project last month: Around me, people took notes and heads bobbed in agreement.

The event gave me renewed confidence in what we do at Imagine If, and why we do it. The journalists we spoke to seemed genuinely excited by our approach and keen to know more. In a climate of crisis and strikes, it’s a glimmer of hope to take forward.

By Imagine If Director, Anna Hendrey

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