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In recent years the Trafford division has made great efforts to significantly expand its role transforming itself into an invaluable source of local activity for BMA members from all specialties and branches of practice.
Under the leadership of Sarah Norman, the division has become one of the most active outside of the capital. Its growing number of members are provided with the opportunity to network outside of the workplace, whilst also taking advantage of academic meetings featuring a range of eminent and distinguished keynote speakers.
‘GPs and hospital doctors are under increasing pressures of work, in an NHS where morale continues to be low,’ explains Sarah. ‘The opportunities for doctors to meet and chat with colleagues over coffee, after a ward round or morning surgery, no longer exists, and that loss of peer-to-peer support is significant. If we can help replace some of that support, at a local divisional level, then that can be of substantial benefit to many.
‘We focus our meetings on subjects which we think will have broad spectrum appeal to all members, but that are not readily available at the local PGMEC. We typically organise five academic meetings across the year, and these are attended by approximately 70 doctors, across a whole spectrum of ages, specialties and ethnicities.’
The list of visiting speakers invited in recent years reads like a who’s who of distinguished figures from the medical and associated fields and has included: ‘The Role of The Coroner’ by Alison Mutch OBE; ‘International Telemedicine’ by Waheed Arian of Teleheal; ‘Confidentiality and the Public Interest in the light of the Glasgow bin lorry driver and German Wings pilot’ by Professor Diana Kloss MBE (a lawyer and government advisor on occupational health); ‘The Environment: Surely prevention is best?’ by Ashley Woodcock OBE (professor of respiratory medicine); ‘Devo Manc’ by John Rouse (chief officer of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership); ‘Performance Improvement through Psychology’ by John Amaechi OBE; ‘Chimp Management’ by Trevor Gedeon; ‘How to add impact to your presentations’ by Craig Millar (a TED speaker trainer); ‘Patient Safety and Medical Leadership’ by Dr Umesh Prabhu, and ‘International Emergency Medicine’ by Professor Tony Redmond OBE.
In 2018/19, Trafford members can look forward to hearing from Ruth Hussey CB OBE on ‘What Next For The NHS? Learning from the Parliamentary Review of Health and Social Care in Wales’ and Kieran Walshe (professor of health policy and management) on ‘Learning to love the GMC? The Past, Present and the Future of Medical Regulation.’
The variety and quality of the speakers has been very well received by existing members: ‘A true beacon in the dark seas of our profession,’ said one member, whilst another was keen to pay tribute to Sarah who has ‘completely transformed this chapter of the BMA to a robust highly organised forum for doctors to engage and socialise with one another whilst gaining knowledge in the broader non-clinic areas of human endeavour.’ The success of the division in establishing itself as key local presence has, importantly, prompted a number of non-members to get involved with and join the BMA.
As you would expect, Sarah and her executive team ensure the division operates like a well-oiled machine. They take of advantage of ticketing company Eventbrite so that members can register for events, CPD is obtained from the RCP in advance, and members are provided with feedback forms and certificates on the night. The format of meetings involves a 45-minute talk by the visiting speaker, followed by 30 minutes Q&A, before a buffet meal. Costs are carefully controlled by sourcing the food for the evening from a local Indian restaurant, providing the drinks themselves and hiring a function room from the local town hall. The Division make a contribution of £100 for a speaker fee but invite each speaker to donate their fee to a charity of their choice. This has seen nearly £2,000 raised for a number of worthy causes over the last three years.
Looking to the future, the challenge going forward is for the division to maintain this momentum. Sarah is now entering her fourth (and possibly final) year of chairing, and therefore succession planning is a key priority. But Sarah believes the operating model of the division can be replicated by other divisions nationally. This would enable the BMA locally to ‘facilitate more members to achieve the potential benefits of networking and peer support, in a context of stimulating and relevant educational topics supporting broader, non-clinical areas of general wellbeing.’
Michael Cheetham is a BMA industrial relations officer and regional co-ordinator in the north-west of England
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