Policy of the day
Hunt on Health
Jeremy Hunt was beaten to the microphone by David Cameron this morning when he announced that by the end of the next Parliament patients will be able to access their GPs from 8am-8pm; with appointments becoming available on Saturday and Sundays. This, you would think, left little for the Health Secretary to talk about at the Conservative Party Conference this afternoon, but you would be wrong.
He started by thanking GPs, carers, volunteers; he emphasised the strides that the Conservative Party has taken in the fight against Cancer, with the creation of the Cancer Drugs Fund and increased investment in cancer treatment. He explained that come 2015 every patient will have a named family doctor under the new GP contract (this practice was stopped under the previous Labour government), and an extra 5,000 GPs will be trained.
Hunt then focused on the role of technology; outlining plans for patients to be able to access their medical records online. Britain will be the first country in the world to have this system. The idea emphasises what Jeremy Hunt has been speaking about at numerous fringe events over the past three days in regards to the NHS; personal care and personal control. Patients will be able to question and research their treatment options, given that they will be able to view their information online.
Hunt ended by issuing a word of warning to Miliband and the Labour Party as a whole – that the NHS should not be used as a ‘political football’.
Quote of the day
Boris announces new fisheries policy
“That’s our new fisheries policy, folks – first chuck Salmond overboard and then eat the kippers for breakfast”
[Boris Johnson, Mayor of London & PPC for Uxbridge and South Ruslip]
Tweet of the day
“The Ken Clarke way” from @IsabelOakeshott
“Party conference the Ken Clarke way. Enormous cigar, paper, canal side bench…”
Picture of the day
Boris loves his brick too
Credit to Sam Macrory, Editor of Total Politics, for this uncanny conference day comparison:
TechCentral held a general policy discussion on technology and specifically around broadband. This outlined TalkTalk’s recent research that developed their ‘People’s Broadband Manifesto’. The research outlined evidence of growing consumer confidence problems around using certain Internet services and the relationship with their ISPs. Too much focus appeared to be concerned with infrastructure rollout and not enough on customer service. Indeed it was suggested that the industry should be wary it did not go the way of the energy industry in terms of trust.
On digital policy, the question was asked, whether this was a party political issue and the general consensus was that it shouldn’t be, with some basic consensus on the general principles. However greater clarity was encouraged to promote the parties vision.
Online Safety raised its head. Whilst filtering techniques had helped, the panel agreed that the overall problem would be solved only by behavioural change rather than any big bang technical solution that could solve everything. Government, industry, school and parents would continue to have to play their part in what was deemed a long-term educating process in empowering individuals.
Over-regulation was touched on and whilst panellists agreed certain issues needed to be watched closely (including privacy, data protection and net neutrality), regulation did have the danger of creating unintended consequences.
The final point of the day was European policy making and the need for the UK to be fully involved in digital policy emanating from Brussels. Conor Burns MP felt the Westminster system was badly geared up to scrutinise EU activity and needed reform. The panel agreed that it was vital for the UK to take the lead and prevent a one size fits all approach on these highly difficult issues, which may change quickly, depending on technology developments.