Those who regularly read our news posts and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn will know that we recently exhibited at the fantastic NHS Providers Annual Conference and Exhibition 2020. Taking place across three days, we are immensely proud for this to have been our first exhibition and conference.
However, this was not the only first. It was also the first time NHS Providers hosted the event virtually – something we can now expect to see happen increasingly for the foreseeable future. It was, therefore, excellent to see high levels of engagement which we are certain had a lot to do with the impressive line-up of several high-profile keynote speakers and thought-provoking sessions.
As we are entering what is now generally agreed to be a second wave of COVID-19, this event could not have been more timely. With over 900 attendees and 85 speakers, it was certainly a busy 3 days. Our senior consultants were on hand to speak with visitors to our virtual stand and we managed to balance this with attending many of the speeches and sessions too.
With the conference’s theme, ‘reflect and recover’, it will not be surprising to learn that there was much reflection on the huge efforts made by all those working for the NHS, in all capacities, not only during the first wave of the pandemic earlier this year, but the continuing efforts and what likely lies ahead in the coming months.
In a keynote address, Rt Hon health secretary Matt Hancock offered his thanks, “Everyone who works in the NHS knows how valued they are by the public, and by me…”. In a change of tone to how the first wave was handled, he also underlined the importance of maintaining, wherever possible, non-Covid services over the winter period.
Diversity was also a dominant theme, not only on efforts to diversify the current workforce in the NHS, but also addressing the unequal impact of COVID-19 on those who identify as BAME. What can be done moving forward, as we increasingly find ourselves entering a second wave, to prevent the BAME community being disproportionately affected?
We found the New York Times bestselling author, John Amaechi to be particularly inspiring, “The enemy of inclusion is not what you think… it is mediocrity. When you open up an opportunity to a wider number of people, mediocrity is exposed.”
In addition, Patricia Miller OBE, Chief Executive of Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, infused us with her passion on addressing issues of diversity and inclusivity from a Trust Board perspective.
Digital transformation featured heavily too. Digital plans that were in the pipeline pre-COVID and scheduled to happen in the next 3-5 years, have out of necessity taken place in 2020, due in large part to the meet the pressures of COVID-19. Many appointments are now taking place virtually, and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
In addition, as many of us continue to work remotely, software such as Microsoft Teams have played a massive part in enabling communication to continue successfully.
The theme of COVID-19 stimulating accelerated change also featured in one discussion we found particularly enlightening, Step-up to day case: Attacking waiting lists to support the recovery – two transformative examples.
Two speakers, Eric Mutema, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and Sean Carrie, Consultant ENT Surgeon and Rhinologist, Freeman Hospital and University of Newcastle upon Tyne, brilliantly showcased how they have successfully reduced the demands on the NHS for inpatient care, not only making savings for the NHS but also enabling better patient care and safety.
It was great to see some positive news in a year which has brought hard challenges for many. Overall, it was a great event and good news too that all sessions remain available to access online for another three months. We are looking forward to next year’s event and have the dates in our diaries already!