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The last time I blogged for the BMA was to reflect on our first ever Scottish Conference.
Now the dust has settled on that event I wanted to update you – both on what we’ve learnt and our plans for the future.
On that basis, I think probably the best place to start is to let you know we’ve decided to do it all over again.
Our instinct has always been there was a strong appetite amongst members for a conference like this in Scotland. Our sense is that there is a desire for a forum where we can gather and discuss openly the challenges of working in today’s health service across all branches of practice and levels of our profession.
I was always keen to say this was about show-casing what the BMA can do for its Scottish members and what its Scottish members can do for it.
The feedback we had on the last conference confirmed that feeling – and went even further than we had hoped in terms of positivity.
In the immediate aftermath I had felt there was a really good response, indeed delegates told me they felt “energised” and “motivated” by the conference. But you are never quite sure until you see what attendees say in the formal feedback.
In this case, the response matched our feeling about the day. For example, 99% of respondents found the event excellent or good overall while a remarkable 100% felt the event completely or mostly met their expectations and was good value.
That left us in little doubt that we needed to set the wheels in motion to deliver another conference this year – which is exactly what we have been doing.
We are still at the relatively early stages of that process and while there is much still to be decided, there is some initial thinking I can update you on.
First, in terms of timing and location, we have a working date of September 21st and are planning to head back to Glasgow, which worked well last time. So, you may want to make a note of the date in your diary.
We also have two excellent speakers lined up – former BMA president Parveen Kumar, who will on speak on the effects of stress and workload and Anthea Mowat, chair of the BMA’s representative body, who will look at bullying and harassment in the NHS and how best to tackle it.
When it comes to the overall theme, I think the idea of the conference being absolutely about what support there is for members in the really tough working environment we all face seemed to really resonate. So, I don’t think we will move too far from that successful territory.
Indeed, if anything, we want to do more, and go further to really embed that tight focus on member needs. Since the conference we’ve published figures from a pan profession survey which showed the huge strain doctors working in our NHS are under. It painted a picture of a profession pushed to the brink, who deliver care in a system that is under resourced in terms of both staff and finances.
It also showed that bullying and harassment is still far too prevalent in our health service – and that where it does occur, people are fearful of reporting it.
We know you need support dealing with all of these issues and I hope our second conference will be able to help you with ideas and practical support to build your resilience and cope with the daily pressures of work.
But that is only our initial thinking. Just as the conference is designed to support you, we want to hear from you about how best we do that. So, please do get in touch to let us know what kind of themes we should focus on. That could be for either the whole conference, or the more specific plenary sessions.
Of course, I can’t promise that we’ll be able to respond to every request, but I can assure you we will be listening and will do all we can to be flexible and respond to your needs and concerns.
I think that approach really helped with last year’s conference and working together I know we can deliver a similarly successful day, which hopefully attendees will leave feeling just that little bit more resilient, optimistic and hopeful. I really hope that’s the case, as we are planning on making the conference a permanent fixture in the BMA’s calendar.
So please do get in touch with your ideas – either comment on this blog, or email [email protected] and we’ll keep you in close touch with developments.
Brilliant news Amy, delighted to hear there will be another - I flagged this event as a really useful and appreciated offering during a Portfolio GP research interview by BMA recently.