Networking, friendships and fantastic achievements! Those are just some of the recurring themes that emerged for me at the joint EuSEM & RCEM Conference. It was undoubtedly one of the absolute highlights of the year and those who attended were met with incredible Glaswegian hospitality and superb organization by the RCEM Events and EuSEM team. Many thanks to the local organizing committee too.
What’s great about conferences!
EM conferences were of course originally designed for people to share the latest research, to educate, showcase great work and of course to have powerful and complex academic discourse. The reality is that although that is exactly what occurs, the real fabric of the conference platform is the ability to meet old friends, make new ones and to share some of the great ‘war stories’ of yesteryear. That complex and dynamic matrix makes for a chance to re-energise and refresh as well as a chance to ‘look up’ a little. The Glasgow conference has done all that and more.
At the opening ceremony, it was a pleasure to welcome almost 2,500 delegates from so many countries (there were over 700 from the UK & Ireland alone). Whilst our politicians may choose to pontificate and prevaricate on Brexit, there was no stronger message on the powerful bonds that we have and will continue to have in the Emergency Medicine community right across Europe and even further afield. The conference has become a real lightening rod to reaffirm the strong collaborative links that RCEM has built with EuSEM as well as reaching out to other organisations who were here – I had the pleasure of excellent discussions with Prof Roberta Petrino, President EuSEM, Prof Jim DuCharme, President of IFEM, as well as Dr Teri Reynolds, Head of Emergency Care at WHO amongst many others. It was also a great opportunity to run the pre-conference Leadership Day with colleagues from EuSEM and also the United States. The sharing of experiences and expertise was quite excellent.
My other key message to all the delegates was that which I have previously shared with you all. If one steps back it is clear that as a specialty we go from strength to strength and continue to flourish. The RCEM Annual General Meeting was a chance to reinforce that when I described the work of the various arms of the College and what they / we have achieved over the past year. I will be sharing that presentation with you later in the year. The fact that we seem to also be making good progress on many components of the RCEM Vision 2020 is a testament to the dedication and disciplined approach of so many staff within the College and the members and fellows who support us with their own time – well done all!
Responsibilities of system performance
Now of course that is not to say that our health service does not face incredible pressures and indeed crowding in our hospitals and Emergency Depts has never been greater as we smoothly transition from the ‘summer crisis’ into the winter! But lets be really clear where the fault lies for that. Poor hospital 4hrs ECS system performance is due to poor allocation of resource for clinical staffing, acute beds and social care/community funding. That is the responsibility of policymakers and governments to be accountable for.
The people who are the heroes will be the doctors, nurses, managers and other staff who will attempt to keep our Emergency Departments safe and deliver timely care linked to acuity in the coming months. The risk of poor system performance will impact directly on our ability to perform that central function but we will ensure that we advocate strongly to the ‘top table’ of their responsibility in that symbiotic relationship. I have meetings planned in the near future at No 10 and with Secretary of State as well as Health Ministers in the devolved nations. It will be a chance to reinforce how much we have achieved especially in terms of workforce planning but how important it is to implement well in the next few years. The key priority of ‘stablisation and safety’ this winter will be the other key topic.
Celebrate and be proud
I never get tired of delivering this message as you can tell. I think there is much that we are doing to celebrate the excellent achievements of the College and that is important when we struggle through tough times in the NHS. It is a special pleasure this month to share with you a couple of memories.
It is 10 years since the inception of the College in 2008. The two photos are just a small memory of a few of the giants of our specialty who have put us on such a firm footing building upon the ‘road’ that others helped build before them. We were lucky to have Jim Wardrope as our first President and there will be other familiar faces that you will recognise too. Thank you to them for all they did to start us on our journey as a College and to HRH The Princess Royal for her unstinting support.
It is indeed a great pleasure to enter into my last year as your President and I have enjoyed ever last minute of it – though I confess it has been hard work for sure! It has been great to meet so many of you in Glasgow, to get such positive feedback on how we are doing. Also of course on how we can improve further and I look forward to seeing more of you all at future regional and national events and discussing matters directly. Thanks also to all who completed the recent membership survey – we will be following up in the coming months.
Dr Taj Hassan