I am a citizen, not of Athens or Greece but of the world. Socrates

Blog: Out & About | News - Some Highlights & Views

Blog: Out & About | News - Some Highlights & Views

 @PidaRipley   |   @CombatamrOrg   |   @WAI_WomenAid   |   @AgeofthePhage



Exiled King, Amir Ahmed Suleman Daud, Khan of Kalat, dreams of Balochistan regaining its freedom. His ancestor, Miro Amir, established the territory of Balochistan in the 14th century, long before the formation of Pakistan. Balochistan is a nation which includes many tribal regions within it. Less than a century ago the Khanate of Kalat was a thriving confederacy of tribes spread across an area now known as western Pakistan, southern Afghanistan and south-eastern Iran.

Balochistan was supposed to remain independent from Pakistan, while sharing currency, foreign policy and defence, after partition from India in 1947. But after six months the Pakistani military stormed in and took over. The country has a strategically located coastline, facing vital shipping lanes in the Arabian Sea and a huge resource rich landmass - some forty percent of Pakistan. Unsurprisingly, Balochistan has an insurgent movement seeking independence from Pakistan.

Multi-lingual Suleman, the 35th Khan of Kalat, officially known as His Highness Beglar Begi, the Khan of Kalat, was forced to flee after he was targeted for speaking out against Pakistani military human rights abuses. There are shocking reports of atrocities being committed against ethnic Baloch who have been abducted by Pakistani Security forces and killed in custody, with their bodies ditched later, part of a so-called “Kill and Dump” policy. “We are treated as an occupied nation by an occupier,” Suleman said. As one of western Pakistan’s most influential leaders, he commands the loyalty and respect of thousands of Baloch tribesmen.

“But since then we have not seen or heard anything. They talk about places like South Sudan and Syria and here and there but not Iran or Pakistan. And these are two countries where there are a lot of human rights violations.”  The Khan is desperate to return home. He is confident things are on the up for Balochistan.

“We will get our freedom because things are changing in today’s world,” he said.


26 July. On one of the hottest days of the year, the HSCWRU PPIE Advisory Group members met to discuss and further develop the 5-year PPIE strategy it is required by NIHR to produce. High five to regional members who travelled from Cumbria and Hampshire.  


4th July. The NIHR funded Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College started a National study: How the new Nursing Associates help resolve some of the workforce recruitment and retention problems in health and social care.  The first meeting of the project Advisory Group was held at the Policy Institute. Nursing Associates are part of a new scheme that bridges the gap between healthcare support workers and fully qualified registered nurses. This NHS initiative is part of a long term plan to improve patient care and maintain nursing staff levels. The Dept of Health & Social care has recently confirmed that a further 7500 nurses will commence training this year.

The study will be seeking the views and experiences of patients and people using care services of these new staff. This will be the first to gather information, statistics and experiences of the new Nursing Associates in practice and from people supporting them. Researchers are starting by collecting details of the ways in which Nursing Associates are being employed across England. In some parts of the country Nursing Associates are already in post; while others are still undertaking their training. The research team is asking why some employers are taking up this new role but not others. Over time the researchers will be keeping a keen eye on whether Nursing Associates find this job satisfying, whether some move on to undertake registered nurse training courses, and what their managers say about these new staff. The research team will also be asking patients, care users, and family carers about whether they are seeing any differences to their treatment and care as a result of the employment of Nursing Associates.  


20th June 2019.  Auditorium, Bush House (South Wing), 30 Aldwych London

In the 2019 Fulbright Lecture David Miliband used his vantage point as CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to examine one of the major shifts in international relations today – away from checks and balances on the use of power, and towards an Age of Impunity.  He explained how the rules-based international order forged after World War II is being undermined, and suggested how the multilateralist promise embodied by Senator Fulbright can be redeemed. The event also saw the release of new research by the Policy Institute at King's College London and Ipsos MORI which looks at public attitudes towards human rights, international relations and shifts in global power.  Organised by the The Policy Institute at King's College London.


15 June 2019,  The Russian Summer Ball is a magnificent expression of Russian old tradition, one that holds true to those of centuries past as been described in Tolstoy’s books 200 years ago. Founded in 1996 by Alexander Ivanovich Suscenko, members of the Russian émigré community and friends in the capital, the Russian Summer Ball is today one of the highlights of London’s social calendar. This year’s annual Russian Summer Ball raised funds to commission two large icons of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia and the Imperial Martyrs for the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad Cathedral of the Nativity Of the Most Holy Mother of God and the Holy Royal Martyrs. Guests of Honour: H.H. Princess Olga of Russia, H.H. Prince Rostislav of Russia.


12 June.  Attended an interesting seminar on the ‘new’ Assistant Practitioner roles, hosted at the Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit. Colleague, Ian Kessler, Professor of Public Service and Management, King's College London

provided a concise background on the AP role, in context of overall NHS workforce issues and challenges. Increasing demand for healthcare, downward pressure on NHS resources and a shortage of registered clinicians is causing occupational boundaries to be redefined, with clinical tasks transferred or redistributed between different team members to make more efficient and cost effective use of staffing.  The Assistant Practitioner role developed is at Level 4 of the Career Framework.  An Assistant Practitioner is defined as a worker who competently delivers health and social care to and for people. They have a required level of knowledge and skill beyond that of the traditional healthcare assistant or support worker.  Assistant practitioners can free nurses to focus on advanced practice but there are concerns about delegation of care to an unregulated workforce.

Both NHS and social care organisations need to focus on developing new roles to increase productivity rather than just aiming for growth.


11th June. London TECH WEEK event.  Organised by the Health Innovation Network and Digital Health London Accelerator in partnership with DAC Beachcroft’s global headquarters at the Walbrook Building in the City of London.  The interactive event explored the role of technology as a driver of productivity within the clinical workforce and how digital solutions can support the challenges of recruiting and retaining clinical professionals.  DigitalHealth, London’s Accelerator aims to speed up the adoption of technology in London’s NHS, relieving high pressure on services and empowering patients to manage their health.  It works with 20-30 high potential start-ups and SMEs each year, at any stage of the innovation cycle, and supports them to develop and deploy solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing the NHS.

Discussion explored how technology and AI can improve workforce productivity and enable a more agile NHS workforce. Ten companies gave 3 minute pitches on their pioneering concepts followed by a World Cafe, quick fire questions.  DAC Beachcroft’s sponsorship of a very useful networking opportunity was much appreciated. I much enjoyed a brief conversation with Alison McAdams, Head of Life Sciences at DAC Beachcroft, about antimicrobial resistance and my https://www.combatamr.org website.


1-6 June 2019. This year’s Russian Art Week, opened with Dideba’s first solo show in London.  The art of Mamuka Dideba, dubbed "Georgia's Bruegel", is a unique expression of the wonder, the subtle humour, and the warm and often surreal philosophical outlook that is quintessentially Georgian. A master of figurative and abstract, Dideba paints in exquisite Renaissance imprimatura technique that lights up the canvas from within. Inspired by the Old Masters and Georgia's rich history, Dideba explores beauty through vivid characters whose unconventional forms and faces convey their essence. His abstracted paintings lure deep inside their magical worlds through an ingenious interplay of light and colour.

WOMEN IN WESTMINSTER: The MPs Who Changed Politics

21 May 2019. Attended the book launch of Women of Westminster: The MPs Who Changed Politics, by Rachel Reeves MP. Joined in conversation with Professor Rosie Campbell, Director of the Global Institute for Women's Leadership, they will discuss the history and future of female parliamentarians.

In 1919 Nancy Astor was elected as the Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton, becoming the first woman MP to take her seat in the House of Commons. Her achievement was all the more remarkable given that women (and even then only some women) had only been entitled to vote for just over a year. In the past 100 years, a total of 491 women have been elected to Parliament. Yet it was not until 2016 that the total number of women ever elected surpassed the number of male MPs in a single parliament. The achievements of these political pioneers have been remarkable – Britain has now had two female Prime Ministers and women MPs have made significant strides in fighting for gender equality from the earliest suffrage campaigns to Barbara Castle’s fight for equal pay to Harriet Harman’s recent legislation on the gender pay gap. Yet the stories of so many women MPs have too often been overlooked in political histories. In this book, Rachel Reeves brings forgotten MPs out of the shadows and looks at the many battles fought by the Women of Westminster, from 1919 to 2019.

Strangely there was no discussion as to why the Labour Party has so far failed to elect a female leader.  Grudging recognition of Margaret Thatcher's achievements was given by Rachel Reeves but overlooked was the fact that Margaret Thatcher was the first female UK parliamentarian who achieved true global status and recognition. A fact worth underlining!

Organised by Global Institute of Women’s Leadership and the Policy Institute.


9th May 2019.  The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies ‘Future of Health’ report, looking forward to 2040, is an authentic and honest assessment of what needs to be done to preserve and nurture the nation’s health. Interviewed by Roy Lilley, Dame Sally Davies, Lord Darzi, Shirley Cramer and report editor Jonny Pearson-Stuttard discussed key aspects of the report with interesting content and comment from the audience. An enlightening evening, presented by the Institute of Healthcare Management in collaboration with the Academy of Fabulous Stuff and Royal Society of Public Health. The event was broadcast on Periscope, which I encourage you to watch.  I was especially pleased to note one of my colleagues, George Stoye, Institute for Fiscal Studies, contributed to Chapter 2 Health and economic outcomes.

CMO’s Foreword-Tenth Annual Report: ‘Health 2040 - Better Health within Reach’

Discussion of health often focuses on the financial cost of healthcare. Far from a cost, our health is our primary asset, as individuals, communities and as a nation. Maintaining ‘good health’ and preventing ‘ill-health’ is an investment for the future. This is so important that we need to measure and track health in our society. After all, as Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets managed.”

I look at the future health of England’s population in this, my tenth, annual report. As the NHS has been developing its own 10-year plan, I look further ahead. I wanted this report to take an aspirational view of what health could and should look like in 2040 if we commit to it being our nation’s primary asset. Every part of the health system has a role to play in creating a healthier and fairer future.

The fortunate truth is that we already know how to make fantastic improvements and prepare for better health that is ‘within our reach’. The green shoots of a brighter future are already visible in some parts of our health system. Now we need to develop, plan and scale, harnessing technology (including wearables and AI) to support this. We need to develop our environment to make the healthy choice the easy choice, thus promoting our health, our happiness and our economy whilst preventing disease.  I hope this report inspires all readers to understand that we can achieve better health in England in 2040 – this can be our shared vision, with each of us delivering our part, in our different ways.

Download the CMO Report here> 


9th May 2019.  The inaugural meeting of the Policy Research Unit on Health & Social Care Patient & Public Involvement and Engagement Advisory Group (PPIEAG) was held in the Policy Institute at King’s College London.  The first meeting of a group of people who are committed to a five-year involvement is a very special event for we are a group - but not yet a team. As the PPIEAG chair I look forward together with new colleagues, Tom Duffy, Jane Hopkins, Mick Jones, Dolapo Ogunleye, Keymn Whervin, Mary Amos, Emily Lam, Andrew Carpenter to forming a team to provide support to the important work on workforce issues undertaken by the Health & Social Care Workforce Policy Research Unit on workforce issues.

For press release and background of members visit: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/scwru/about/ppie/index


29th April 2019.  I was delighted to be invited to this year’s King's College Parliamentary Reception, hosted by The Policy Institute. The annual reception brings together colleagues from across King’s, visiting professors, fellows, alumni, parliamentarians, government officials, business leaders and people that shape the world. Professor Jill Manthorpe, Director of the Policy Research Unit on Health & Social Care Workforce had just returned from Singapore a few hours earlier; impressive constitution! Enjoyed the opportunity to hear views and news from a young researcher, Danielle Clark Bryan and Natasha Ikners, a consultant at IDEAS International. A surprise, when joined by the Rt. Hon. Mark Francois, MP, to discover that both he and Natasha, like me, had obtained our MA in War Studies at KCL.  All shared great memories of Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman’s mentorship.


25th April 2019. Very pleased to be invited by the Embassy of Azerbaijan to the UK, Baku Book Centre and the Azerbaijani Women’s Association in the UK to the book launch of ‘Cry' by Gunel Anarqizi and Leyla Begim. Richly evocative poetry, poesie and short stories relating to the tragedy of the unresolved Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, including. the emotional and deeply-felt 'Weeping for Karabakh' by Leyla Begim and 'A Letter to Dad' by Gunel Anarqizi.  


Lt-General Jamal Kamal Al-Shimary, President Iraq’s Defence University Military Studies,

11th March 2019. Attended an insightful lecture by Lieutenant General Jameel Kamil Al Shimary, President of Iraq’s Defence University for Military Studies at RUSI, the podium of choice for world leaders and senior policymakers. In June 2014, Iraq lost 40% of its territory to the Islamic State. Since then the Iraqi army has regrouped and fought a gruelling campaign of liberation. Their adversary was devious and adaptive, utilising vehicle borne IEDs and armed quadcopters, urban combat teams and tunnelling, to inflict a heavy toll.

The Iraqi military changed significantly over the course of the conflict, learning lessons with each town retaken.  Lieutenant General Al Shimary, President of Iraq’s Defence University for Military Studies since September 2018, shared key insights from the campaign and explained how the Iraqi army can retain the experience and knowledge it has gained.

The Creation of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre

28 February 2019. RUSI Whitehall. The digital age is opening up so many previously unimaginable opportunities, yet our ever expanding interconnectivity also increases vulnerabilities. I am fascinated by the global cyber ecosystem so it was with great interest I attended a  lecture by Robert Hannigan CMG, former Director, GCHQ, on the creation of the National Cyber Security Centre and future cyber security challenges. He was the Director of GCHQ, the UK’s largest intelligence and security agency, from 2014-17, and a member of the National Security Council. He was responsible in the Cabinet Office for the Single Intelligence Account (covering MI5, GCHQ and SIS/MI6), he chaired ‘COBR’ through numerous crises and was a longstanding member of the Joint Intelligence Committee, which he chaired in 2011-12. 

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was established in 2016 to act as a bridge between industry and government, providing a unified source of advice, guidance and support on cyber security, including the management of cybersecurity incidents. During its first two years, the NCSC cyber security front line responded to 1,167 cyber incidents. The majority of those attacks against the UK were attributed to
hostile nation states.

He was also responsible for directing, with military colleagues, the National Offensive Cyber Programme and is a leading authority on cyber security, cyber conflict and the application of technology in national security. This lecture, discussion and reception marked the formal launch of his personal written account of the UK’s approach to cybersecurity and how the NCSC was created. Published by RUSI, the report draws out the thinking principles and key policy, operational and political issues, which might be applicable or useful elsewhere. 

Download the RUSI paper: Organising a Government for Cyber: The Creation of the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (PDF)

The Passing of Marcia - the Rt. Hon. Baroness Falkender

February 2019. It was with great sadness I learned of the death of long-time friend, colleague and supporter, the Rt. Hon. Baroness Falkender. Marcia supported many of my initiatives and as a trustee of both the UN Development Fund for Women UK Committee and of WomenAid International, provided constant encouragement. We met in the early 1970s and became good friends, maintaining our friendship thereafter. 

For over a period of nearly eight years she was arguably the most powerful woman in Britain. She was envied by cabinet ministers and resented by civil servants. For Marcia Falkender had the ear of the prime minister and consistently exerted more political influence in Britain than any other woman until the arrival of Margaret Thatcher.  She was influential elsewhere and with other high profile personalities was involved in advising Her Royal Highness, Diana, The Princess of Wales, who had expressed her interest in assuming a "hands-on" role and becoming the royal patron of WomenAid International. 

As one grows older the loss of dear friends and colleagues is a painful passage. In my thoughts remain the late John Surtees, J.P. Donleavy, Admiral Sir James Eberle, Professor Susan Strange, and so many others, including family members - all of who enlivened the years of ‘wine and roses’. I have always believed it is important to let friends know they are loved and highly valued; it is too late after they have left us. 


11th February 2019. Organised at the Savile Club by the American Monday Club.

I was delighted to meet fellow University of Maryland alumni, Kori Schake, PhD, Deputy Director-General, International Institute Strategic Studies (IISS) at her luncheon discussion on US defense strategy, especially in relation to China, tradeoffs and priorities, innovation and more. Interesting insights on how China’s Belt and Road policy is impacting on global foreign and defence policy.

Kori gave a useful interview a few weeks earlier with Defense &  Aerospace Report Editor Vago Muradian at the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. 

IISS' Schake on US Defense Strategy, Novel Ways to Prioritize Tradeoffs, Innovation
Defense & Aerospace Report  Published on 3 Dec 2018

CATHERINE  McARDLE KELLEHER  Expert in International Security

In discussion with Kori Schake I was saddened to learn that Professor Catherine Kelleher had recently suffered a stroke. Catherine founded the Center for International Security Studies at Maryland, which part of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, where I was appointed a Senior MacArthur Fellow in the mid-80s.

As Chair of the Social Science Research Council's prestigious MacArthur Committee on International Peace and Security fellowship she spearheaded efforts to development and assessment of their grant programs in international security, and their efforts to change the traditional research agenda for students at the graduate and undergraduate levels, in the United States and throughout the world. She founded the now-international organization Women in International Security (WIIS).

She has served both in the White House on the National Security Council staff (under President Jimmy Carter) and at various levels in the Department of Defense. Her most recent assignments are as the Secretary of Defense's Personal Representative and Defense Advisor to the US Mission to NATO, and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia (OSD/RUE) in the Clinton Administration. She is considered an expert on international security and it was my great privilege to be mentored by her.


I am delighted to start 2019 with my appointment as a Visiting Research Fellow at King's and I am looking forward to supporting the excellent research work undertaken by my colleagues in the new Policy Research Unit at the Policy Institute, King’s College London. The Health and Social Care Workforce Research Unit (HSCWRU) commenced its 5-year programme on the 1st January under the expert guidance of Director, Professor Jill Manthorpe. Other colleagues include Dr Elaine Kelly, George Stoye, Prof Carol Propper, Prof Anne Marie Rafferty, and Prof Ian Kessler. 

NIHR puts patients at the heart of its strategy and my role is to ensure a convincing Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) is threaded throughout the work of the Unit. As a ‘Patient Advocate’ for many years I know how advantageous patient partnership, at all levels, has proven to be in improving the design and delivery of services and in identifying research needs. Patient experience and perspectives are crucial for helping guide research, and patients play an important part in the translation and dissemination of findings. I feel honoured to be working alongside such an excellent team. 

People-focused research in the NHS simply cannot be delivered without the involvement of patients and the public. No matter how complicated the research or how brilliant the researcher, patients and the public always offer unique, invaluable insight.” 

Professor Dame Sally C Davies FRS, FMS Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser, Department of Health

AT LAST SOME ACTION to prevent UK children undergoing FGM

AT LAST SOME ACTION to prevent UK children undergoing FGM - but WHO shouted OBJECT to the Female Genital Mutilation Bill getting a second reading? Sir Christopher Chope. MP for Christchurch! Time to remove him; he ought to be deselected!

Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill [HL] 2017-19
Type of Bill:   Private Members' Bill (Starting in the House of Lords)
Sponsors:   Lord Berkeley of Knighton and Zac Goldsmith.
Download the full report
Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (FGM) Bill [HL]: Briefing for Lords Stages (  PDF, 156.86 KB)
Read debates on all stages of the Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill [HL] 2017-19
This Private Members' Bill, sponsored by Lord Berkeley of Knighton, seeks to amend the Children Act 1989 to state that proceedings under Section 5A of, and Schedule 2 to, the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 are family proceedings. The purpose of the proposed amendment is to enable the courts to make interim care orders under the Children Act 1989 in child cases relating to FGM, in addition to FGM protection orders. If a court was satisfied that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, an interim care order could be made. The interim care order would mean that a local authority would have shared parental responsibility for the child concerned until a final hearing. 

At present, provisions under the Children Act 1989 enable interim care orders to be made only in certain 'family proceedings' as defined by the Act. These 'family proceedings' do not currently include proceedings under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003—which Lord Berkeley's Bill seeks to change.


1st January 2019

So delighted to learn that my colleague at King’s. Anne Marie Rafferty, Professor of Nursing Policy at King’s College London, has been elected as the next President of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). The term of office for the new President will run from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020.

Anne Marie is the first Professor of Nursing Policy in the UK and former Dean, at Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, King’s College London.

She was the first nurse to gain a doctorate from Oxford University and she won the prestigious Harkness Fellowship in Health Policy (at the University of Pennsylvania), where she was mentored by Linda Aiken. Holding fellowships from the RCN and American Academy of Nursing and leading the Lancet Commission on Nursing in the UK, her research interests combine history, health policy and health services research.

I am looking forward to the next five years of tour collaboration at the Policy Research Unit on Health & Social Care Workforce (@HSCWRU) at the Policy Institute.

May 2019 Deliver Peace and Transformative Action

WomenAid ‘Women of the World’  Prayer

Lord, we pray for the Women of the World -

The mothers of all nations.

May those who suffer violence be given strength to survive.

May those who suffer poverty and distress be given hope and aid.

May those who suffer pain and fear be given relief and courage.

May those who are homeless be given shelter and protection.

Lord, guide those who have, that they may give

With love and compassion, to those who have not.

Global AI Bootcamp

15.12.18. Wonderful Saturday spent at Imperial College, the London venue for the Global AI Bootcamp - #GlobalAIBootcamp - taking place in over 60 venues in 25 countries. Great presentations by Amy Boyd, Jen Stirrup, Terry McCann, Harry Berg and Pablo Doval. Really brilliant presentation of principles of #DeepLearning by @PabloDoval. Huge thanks to all the speakers, organisers, Plain Concept and other sponsors. You all rock!

ESCAPE-pain Conference: Innovating I Collaborating I  Motivating.

12.12.18  Guy’s Hospital, London. www.escape-pain.org   www.healthinnovationnetwork.com

Health Innovation Network (HIN) is the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) for south London, one of 15 AHSNs across England  The HIN acts as a catalyst of change - identifying, adopting and spreading innovation across the health and care system.

ESCAPE-pain is a rehabilitation programme for people with chronic joint pain that integrates simple education, self-management and coping strategies, with an exercise regimen individualised for each person.  To help people understand their condition better, and to realise that exercise is a safe and effective self-management strategy, that can be used to reduce joint pain and the physical and psychosocial effects of joint pain.  As a rheumatoid arthritis for many decades I have been a constant supporter of this innovative programme initiated by Professor Mike Hurley, MSK Clinical Director at HIN several years ago.  The programme now has over ninety sites across the UK delivering relief from pain for patients and better value for the NHS; £5.2 saved for each £1 invested in the programme. Read more: http://www.escape-pain.org/about-escape/information-for-patients

So pleased to connect with Nuzhat Ali, National Lead for MSK Health & Wellbeing, Public Health England and Sir Muir Gray, a British physician, a leading NHS expert who has held senior positions in screening, public health and information management and currently Visiting Professor in the Nuffield Department of Surgical Services at the University of Oxford. I am now reading How To Get Better Value Healthcare (Third Edition), an unexpected gift from Sir Muir.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muir_Gray

View Professor Muir Gray’s presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FD0XoaqFlg

Launch of free global antimicrobial resistance - AMR resource website

CombatAMR.org   https://www.combatamr.org

To mark World Antibiotic Awareness Week and the annual European Antibiotic Awareness Day, 18 November 2018, WomenAid International founder, Pida Ripley, launched CombatAMR.org - a free global antimicrobial resistance - AMR resource website. She created the site as a personal contribution to help increase awareness of the dangerous developments as antibiotics continue to lose their ability to combat increasingly resistant pathogenic bacteria. 

70 years ago 9 out of 10 people who contracted pneumonia died.
After penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming, only 1 out of 10 died.

We are all standing on the threshold of a post-antibiotic era. No new antibiotics have been discovered for almost 30 years and the pipeline is empty as pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to undertake years of expensive research investment with minimal profit. Every year there are over 700,000 deaths caused by drug resistant infections and global experts predict 10 million deaths a year by 2050 if we fail to counteract the increasing antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Young or old, rich or poor, all are equally vulnerable.  Antibiotics are a precious global resource and we each have a global responsibility to conserve and protect those antibiotics still effective against drug resistant infections. Most certainly we will have to endure some years of increased deaths caused by drug resistant infections - and change our behaviour. The search is on for both new antibiotics and the development of the rich seam offered by alternative therapeutics. We all need to become ‘Resistance Fighters’ to protect ourselves, our families, friends and communities - and our remaining antibiotics.

For more antimicrobial resistance (AMR) information please visit https://www.CombatAMR.org.

Autumn Gala organised by FIWAL & Azerbaijani Womens Association

Lansdowne Club, Mayfair.   17 November 2018.

Congratulations to the Federation of International Women’s Associations in London (FIWAL) and it’s newest member, the Azerbaijani Women’s Association in the UK (AWAUK) for organising a truly splendid Autumn Gala. Sophie Atalar, soprano, Farziyeva, pianist and star vocal student, Alexandra Maks entertained the guests movingly.  Funds raised are to benefit the ‘Yaradan Project’  http://yaradanproject.az/en

A special delight was being able to spend the evening alongside long-time friends, Jocelyn Jones, Founding Member and First President of Fiwal and Latifa Kosta, Arab Women’s Association.   Also at our table were their Excellencies the Ambassador for Turkey, Ümit Yalçın and Ambassador for Azerbaijan, Tahir Taghizade and current FIWAL President, Laura Schapira and Fusun Ilkay, Global Public Relations Consultant, Turkish Airlines. Delighted to also connect with Isabelle Ismayilova and Elif Toker-Turnalar.

Lethal AI and Autonomy Conference.

Royal United Service Institute, Whitehall. 7 November 2018

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) is an independent think tank engaged in cutting edge defence and security research. A unique institution, founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, RUSI embodies nearly two centuries of forward thinking, free discussion and careful reflection on defence and security matters. A member since I was a War Studies MA student almost 40 years ago, I have enjoyed the consistent high quality research, analysis and commentary.  

This conference presented views on the likely strategic impact of AI technology-covering the responsible use of technology; responsible innovation, advances in cyberspace, artificial intelligence, uncrewed aerial vehicles and space technology.  Bill Biggs (QinetiQ) and Nik Bhutani (Northrop Grumann UK) set the scene  with presentations on AI and the Art of the Possible: Parsing Science Fiction from Reality. This led to a robust discussion on Moral and Ethical Challenges - what is unique to the Military, and an interesting analysis from Wing Commander Keith Dear, SO1 Command, Joint Warfare, Joint Forces Command.  I found discussion on the US ‘Agile Warrior’ strategy of particular interest.

Dimitrie Dimancescu: A life of Purpose

Romanian Cultural Institute, 23 October 2018

I was delighted to be invited by Dan Dimancescu and the Romanian Cultural Institute to a book launch and film event - as part of the 'United' Romania Centennial celebrations.  Dimitrie Dimăncescu (1896-1984), the Romanian diplomat whose life resembles a novel, war hero decorated by three monarchs and a close collaborator of Winston Churchill, is one of the most remarkable figures of his time in Romanian history.

The evening opened by the screening of “Hill 789: The Last Stronghold” (Kogainon Films, 2009), a vivid documentary that follows the Eastern Front experiences of Dimitrie Dimăncescu during the First World War. Dimăncescu went to war in August 1916, followed later by his brother Ion. The film covers his dramatic experiences on the Romanian Front between August 1916 and December 1918 and the encounters with British Col. Norton Griffiths, sent to sabotage the Romanian oil wells, as well as the fierce battles against Lt. Erwin Rommel on Hill 789.

“Uncharted Journey: Memoirs of Dimitri D. Dimancescu”, tell of his astounding memoirs that span the first half of the 20th Century. The book goes behind the closed curtains of Romanian history, revealing unprecedented details of the pre-war and interwar period, as well as radical decisions that changed the fate of the country and the world. Among the many personalities that crossed Dimăncescu’s path are: Queen Marie of Romania, King Carol II, Lt. Erwin Rommel, Prince Antoine Bibesco, Nicolae Titulescu, dancer Loie Fuller, William Randolph Hearst, British 'spymaster' Bruce Lockhart, Gheorghe Tatarescu, Winston Churchill, the Pacha El Glaoui (Marrakech).

I was very interested to learn that by the end of the war Romania had massively expanded its territory.

Evidence Based Interventions Programme

Consultation Feedback Event

The Ambassador Hotel, Bloomsbury 17 October 2018

Professor Carrie MacEwen, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Graham Jackson, NHS Clinical Commissioners welcomed many medical delegates and introduced the proceedings. Feedback from the consultation was discussed and questions answered by Celia Ingham Clark, NHS England, Dr Sean O’Kelly, NHS Improvement and Nicola Bent, NICE. After further group discussions on the implementation of the EBI programme, shared decision-making and information, prior approval and Individual Funding Requests, and coding challenges, Professor Steve Powis, NHS England outlined Next steps and concluded the meeting.

As a member of British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) Patient Liaison Group I was pleased to have the opportunity to share views with John Skinner, orthopaedic surgeon and BOA Council Member, as well as Professor Mike Hurley, Escape Pain -a  programme I have supported and promoted for many years.

‘Global Implications of Shifting Into Asia, Pacific Power Centers’

Guards & Cavalry Club, Piccadilly. 15 October 2018

Admiral Scott H. Swift, USN

Admiral Scott H Swift, recently retired 35th Commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, provided a first hand update on current US strategy and implications of Chinese increasingly threatening behaviour in the SCS arena.

A variety of disputes between Beijing and Washington has increased tension but the narrowly avoided collision of USS Decataur and a Chinese naval vessel making ‘aggressive manoeuvres’ is a reminder of the dangers inherent in the South China Sea dispute.

The Decataur was conducting a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in the surrounding waters of a Chinese claimed artificial island in the SCS. Unknown as yet is whether the escalation and confrontational stance on the part of the Chinese is limited to opposing Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) conducted by the US in the region, or whether this represents a new modus operandi of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) that other navies can also expect to confront, should their vessels be found in the area.  

More recently,  HMS Albion, UK Royal Navy ship was conducting a FONOP in the South China Sea and it was shadowed by an ‘irresponsibly close’ Chinese warship and met with low flyovers by Chinese jets.

London Healthy Partnership -London Choosing Wisely

Skipton House, London 2 October 2018

I joined my steering group colleagues for the final meeting of the Healthy London Partnership ‘London Choosing Wisely’ programme Steering Group, chaired by NHS London Director, Vinod Diwakar and the recommendations were signed off. The clinically-led programme involved five NHS Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and 32 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), with the aim of developing agreement for a consistent set of policies for certain treatments across London.  

Specific treatments reassessed included hip and knee arthroplasty, knee arthroscopy, interventional treatments for back pain, varicose vein procedures, shoulder decompression and cataract surgery.

The development of a London-wide policy for each treatment area will harmonise and build upon existing local CCG policies and encourage better shared decision making between patients and clinicians about the most clinically effective treatment available.

Ambassadorial Ball 2019

Dined with Prince Dr Milan Petrovic Njegos and Alexander Suscenko, founder and chairman of the Russian Summer Ball, and am delighted they have joined the Committee for the revived UN Ambassadorial Ball 2019.

The Ambassadorial Balls: attended by ambassadors and diplomats accredited to the Court of St James and other distinguished representatives from many nations. The annual high profile Ball raised funds for UNA, UNICEF and United Nations Agencies and promoted the ideals and work of the United Nations.

Special Forces Summer Party 2018

25 July.  What could be a better way to enjoy a warm Summer evening in London than to meet up with old and new like-minded friends. Add a rooftop terrace with views across London, excellent food and it is a recipe for celebrating life.

NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce - HSCWRU

2 July 2018. As one of the five co-applicants, I am thrilled that the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has today launched a new set of 13 NIHR Policy Research Units to undertake research to inform decision-making by government and arms-length bodies.  The 13 new NIHR units will provide both a long-term resource for policy research and a rapid-response service to provide evidence for emerging policy needs. The units, which are considered to be an exemplar of good practice in government, will also offer advice to policy makers and analysts on the evidence base and options for policy development.

The King’s College London and Institute for Fiscal Studies HSCWRU unit brings together a multidisciplinary team of leading researchers to create a critical mass of experts for research in priority areas of health and social care workforce policy. The new NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce will work closely with the Department of Health and Social Care to determine priorities and provide evidence directly to the Secretary of State for Health, government departments and arms-length bodies, such as NHS England and Public Health England.

This continues but expands the role of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London whose work is rolling over to the new unit. Unit Director, Prof Jill Manthorpe, said ‘We are greatly looking forward to our new role in addressing the workforce challenges for policy makers across health and social care. Millions of people work in health and social care services and want to do a great job. The public relies on them at the moment of their birth and often at the end of life; this makes workforce research hugely important to us all.' As well as the research team from the current Social Care Workforce Research Unit, the new unit expands with the joining of economic researchers from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (Dr Elaine Kelly and Prof Carol Propper), and the King’s College London’s Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care (Prof Anne Marie Rafferty), its Business School (Prof Ian Kessler) and with public and patient involvement led by Mrs Pida Ripley.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care, said:

'Patients and the public deserve a healthcare system that is informed by the latest research and evidence. The NIHR Policy Research Units will make sure that Government decisions affecting our health and care are robust and evidence based.'

Wanborough School for Secret Agents

09.06.18.  Historic Great Barn of Wanborough, built in 1388 by the Cistercian monks of Waverley Abbey and believed to have been used by S.O.E. during WW2.

Accompanied by several other FANYs, I spent a  very thoughtful day remembering those heroic men and women who were willing to risk their lives to secure our freedom. Many died.  2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the transition of the preliminary assessment process for trainee special agents of Britain’s wartime Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.)  SOE’s preliminary school at Wanborough Manor near Guildford, was designed to identify potential agents to carry out Prime Minister Churchill’s order to “set Europe ablaze!”.

Illustrated presentations were delivered by Carol Browne, formerly of Guildford Museum and Paul McCue, a Witley-based author on special forces and clandestine warfare. Topics covered included the training regime and staff of the School and case studies of three agents of SOE’s French Section who ‘graduated’ from Wanborough Manor:

Section Officer Diana Rowden

Captain Brian Stonehouse

Captain Edward Zeff

FANY, Diana Rowden, who was executed in Natzweiler concentration camp, came from a Surrey family background and is commemorated in Tilford church. Brian Stonehouse and Edward Zeff were also held in concentration camps, but were fortunate to survive the war.  

Congratulations, Mr. President! 

Armen Sarkissian assumes the office of President of the Republic of Armenia at the RA National Assembly special sitting.

I first met Armen Sarkissian (current President of Armenia) when he was the Armenian Ambassador for EU and the UK and I was one of four directors at Chatham House in the early 1990s. 

His Excellency urged me to expand the WomenAid International humanitarian programme activities to include Armenia.

Simultaneously I received requests for urgent assistance from the governments of Georgia and Azerbaijan. The result?  WomenAid International commenced implementing multiple high value aid programmes in the Caucasus and Central Asia, in partnership with the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), the UN World Food Programme and UNHCR.