Medical students

Conservative Party conference: Steve Barclay announces new medical schools, fresh tech fund & more

The creation of a fresh fund to accelerate the NHS’s digital transformation agenda, changes to the NHS constitution, and new medical schools were all announced by Steve Barclay at today’s annual Conservative Party conference.

The health secretary said that, despite evidence proving they are effective, some innovations can take too long to roll across the health service.

To combat this, a new £30m fund to streamline the adoption of technology within the NHS has been created, with initiatives to be delivered this financial year.

Barclay also explained his decision to reverse “unacceptable” changes to the NHS website that “erased references to women” for conditions like cervical cancer.

Building on this line of action, the health secretary said that, following a consultation later this year, the government will “change the NHS constitution”.

This is to protect the rights of women, recognise the importance of different biological needs and respect the privacy, dignity and safety of all patients, according to Barclay.

NHS Providers’ chief executive, Sir Julian Hartley emphasised that any changes to the NHS constitution should be subject to wide consultation and centre around improving inclusivity.

New NHS training places also featured in Barclay’s speech, with the majority being at new medical schools at the universities of Worcester, Chester and Brunel.

The MP for North East Cambridgeshire also touched upon the junior doctor rallies that met attendees outside the conference, describing the British Medical Association’s leadership as “militant”.

Responding to the speech, Sir Julian Hartley also said it is “concerning” that with consultants, junior doctors and radiographers all striking today, Barclay did not focus on a strategy to end the walkouts.

Image credit: iStock

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