The Health Hotel, a grouping of 36 organisations, seeks to put health at the centre of the political agenda by stimulating debate and fresh ideas at the three main party conferences taking place in the coming weeks
I am proud to introduce the Health Hotel section of this special Labour Party conference edition of HSJ. The Health Hotel is a not-for-profit, collaborative project that culminates in a series of health-related events and activities at the three main party political conferences.
Health Hotel events are designed to promote and encourage debate about health issues among the organisations and individual who shape and influence policy.
Currently in its third year at party conferences, the Health Hotel will enjoy a more visible presence at this week's Labour Party conference by hosting all its events at venues within the main Manchester conference hotel - the Midland.
Ensuring that healthcare issues remain at the centre of every party conference agendas has always been a shared aim of many health-related organisations.
Rather than compete for the attention of the same audiences and speakers, Health Hotel members work together with each other and with supporters to design a programme of events that we hope will cover a number of the main issues relating to health service provision.
This year these debates have been broadly grouped under four main themes: healthy financial futures; patient choice and access; safety and quality; and welfare.
The advantages of joining forces with other organisations to run events at party conferences are numerous. As well as creating an opportunity for messages can be amplified - both to politicians and the media - Health Hotel members and supporters forge strong relationships that last well beyond the party conference season.
This year at the Health Hotel the Royal College of Nursing will be collaborating with the Healthcare Commission on an event that will feature a discussion on whether we get what we pay for within the NHS.
From an RCN perspective, while we support the principles of the NHS reforms, we believe that there is a great need to pause for breath in order to properly consider the scope and impact of the reform programme.
We want to see increased patient involvement, not the dilution of it. We also hope for a smooth and supported programme of transition to change, not a transition characterised by redundancy and the loss of posts.
We want the NHS to continue its role as a provider and commissioner of services. If the NHS moves towards a greater plurality of providers there is a need for greater transparency.
I hope the following pages provide an interesting insight and I look forward to welcoming you to the Health Hotel at the Labour Party conference.
Beverly Malone is chair of the Health Hotel 2006 and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing