Tuesday 12 August 2014

Oh my heart!

A fascinating few hours with the CEO of the British Heart Foundation on Monday, though it did make me think about whether I'm getting enough exercise (as he gently reminded me). I took a lovely leaflet from reception, “put your heart into walking" which is worth getting. And as I mentioned I do a lot of walking with the Hound.

I met for lunch with Simon Gillespie who has been a longstanding and valued member of ACEVO for many years (he was previously at the MS Society). This is one of the country’s biggest charities. Over 3000 staff and turnover above 200 million. It plays a vital role in the research that goes on into discovering the causes of heart problems and working on cures. Much of the advances in heart research has turned strokes and heart attacks into a long term condition as opposed to what carried you off into the next world is down to this wonderful charity. As I remarked to Simon, too often the NHS claims all this research as its own. In fact a third of all medical research is carried out or funded by charity.

They have great offices in Mornington Crescent, ironically in an old cigarette factory (a glorious Art Deco building). And as they have a big staff group over 2 massive floors they have their own cafe and outside balconies looking out over North London to the glories of Hampstead and Primrose Hill (but couldn't see Ed Miliband's house)! So lunch was at his office which is a change as most of my members don't have such a facility!

Simon has been in post less than 2 years but has been reviewing and revising their strategy, recently appointing new top directors. As the country understands better the importance of prevention and the care of people with long term conditions the work of charities like BHF become more important. There is also crucial work to do in how to reorganise the NHS to provide top quality care hospitals.  The reorganisation of London stroke services which moved to treating heart conditions in just 8 hospitals and not all 30+ London A+E showed the importance of rationalising cardiac services across the country. The idea that you need to be treated in your nearest A+E as opposed to the best centre for your condition is one of those myths we need to bust. And we need fewer hospitals and more resources in community and prevention.

And on health generally worth mentioning that all our Winterbourne deliberations are up on the NHS. England website; terms of reference, Membership and first meeting notes.  We agreed that we would make all our discussions accessible. So see them here.

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