Earlier this year I had the pleasure of working with the esteemed Nuffield Trust, creating new staff portraits and photographing their annual Health Policy Summit.
The Nuffield Trust is an independent health charity founded in 1940. Set up to coordinate the activities of all hospitals operating outside London, the Nuffield Trust helped inspire the creation of the National Health Service, with one of its early surveys being utilised as a key reference document in the establishment of the NHS. The founding principles of providing evidence-based research and policy analysis remain core to the trust's values.
[In light of the seemingly constant electoral instability gripping the UK, I've chosen to offer a few personal views and thoughts to accompany examples of photography in this post]
The last few years have seen a well co-ordinated rise in paleoconservative populism on both sides of the Atlantic, with reasoned voices being increasingly drowned out by a largely unfounded soundbite designed solely to propagate click bait, reinforce echo chambers and foster a silo mentality void of meaningful fact checking. This new politick spilled over into mainstream consciousness with the advent of the EU referendum and, unsurprisingly, NHS funding became one of the key campaign battlegrounds for parties and ideologues of all political flavours.
I was becoming increasingly disheartened with this new political landscape and trying to navigate daily news cycles and associated social media was leaving little room for optimism, so the timing of working with the Nuffield Trust was very welcome indeed, as it was refreshing to engage in conversation with a group of experts striving to improve the quality of health care in the UK. I'm interested in an expert's view point as experts hone their skills, understand variables, encourage nuanced conversation and help society in far reaching ways - often posing a qualified threat to the aforementioned populist agenda.
After creating a fresh set of staff portraits (a small selection featured in this post) in the trust's Marylebone HQ, I headed into deep dark Surrey to photograph their annual Health Policy Summit in Wotton House. Staged over 2 days, the summit hosted 28 guest speakers and over 160 leaders of organisations and companies representing the majority of the health and social care system in the UK, with additional input from interests in the USA and mainland Europe.
Wow. Beginning with a powerful opening keynote from Professor Sir Harry Burns (Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde) titled 'Building a better public health landscape' and a hugely insightful discussion 'Should we spend more on health and social care?' led by John Appleby, Director of Research & Chief Economist, Nuffield Trust, the summit continued eagerly with well informed facts, opinion and debate.
The summit was well represented from all sides of the UK's political spectrum, yet was refreshingly free of rhetoric and bluster often witnessed on news comment and debate programmes on television and radio. Furthermore - despite detailing the serious concerns and complexities of funding (public vs private vs blended funding) health care in an ageing population, I discovered an underlying and resolutely positive drive amongst the delegates to construct truly viable fiscal and practical long term solutions for healthcare in the UK - solutions that will benefit all of our society's needs.
I left my time with the Nuffield Trust with a more optimistic mid-term political view and a trust that there are indeed many people in positions of influence working behind the scenes, not only imparting their expert knowledge but also marrying that knowledge with sound emotional intelligence too.
The recent snap election called on more experts than ever to try and decipher politicians' claims and it was super to see the Nuffield Trust's clear and balanced social media narrative ramped up to offer much needed clarity. Follow @NuffieldTrust and see what the team is saying about Brexit and the NHS nuffieldtrust.org.uk/spotlight/brexit-and-the-nhs
I also encourage you to watch / listen to Sir Harry Burns's brilliant keynote speech - trust me, the 43 engrossing minutes will fly by. Scroll down to the end of this post for the video.
The Nuffield Trust are in year 2 of a 5 year strategy. Please click the screengrab below for further reading. From their website:
'There are limits to what policy-makers can do, as many of the solutions required to deliver the more extensive changes in service delivery need clinicians and managers to lead the way. Our strategy recognises this – we are more grounded in the practical implications of policy-making, working closely with clinicians and managers to help improve policy and practice. We focus our activities on five main areas in which we can most add value.'