Choosing a Conference

Posted by: Rachel Coldbeck - Posted on:

As part of the NHS Graduate Scheme you are able to choose one conference to attend within your trainee years. I have been lucky enough to attend a few previous conferences including Florence Nightingale Conference and Chief Nursing Officer’s Conference and therefore wanted to choose something new. I searched through many agendas/timetables looking for one which had things interesting to me and eventually chose the HSJ Patient Congress.


Why did I choose the Patient Safety Congress?

  • There were a lot of patient leaders, patient stories and families involved. I think it is important to have real stories and I felt this had really included these stories throughout the two days. I listened to talks from James Titcombe OBE, Melissa Mead and Scott Morrish. I’ve previously read James’s book which I would absolutely recommend as it will teach you about where culture can go seriously wrong. They introduced the audience to their children (Joshua, William and Sam) who had died due to failures within their NHS care.
  • It was about safety! I think safety is key to the development of the health service, and I wanted to learn more about how to embed this into our daily practice.
  • There was a real mix of lectures and sessions. I listened to patient stories, staff stories and National figures. I liked the mix of lectures on offer, and this meant there was real choice throughout the few days.


What did I learn?

I learnt so much and have already started to embed this into practice. However I will cover a few key points below:

  • Organisations put themselves at risk when they have isolated units. Units/services can be isolated for reasons of location, staff mix or culture. There were commonalities in this across many of the NHS tragedies over the last few years. I have already discussed this in supervision with my team, as I feel this is a risk they should be able to talk about, and to be consciously aware about in everyday practice.
  • We can learn a lot from safety industries such as NASA, Oil fields and engineering. There have been many recent visits from health professionals to NASA and these people have brought back important findings. NASA learnt themselves that we should always listen to those who bring concerns – and this could be from a variety of sources. Most of all, we should remember that the NHS is a safety industry and safety should be key to everything we do. We need to be more open about what we’re doing, not hiding things away.
  • We should approach CQC visits as an opportunity to shine, rather than an opportunity to hide. CQC want assurance (and not reassurance) that things are being done correctly, and we can do this in a number of ways. CQC want to work with us, but we need to let them in to do this.


Overall, I would 100% recommend the HSJ Safety Congress as it includes a real mix of speakers and contributors. I have come away feeling so positive about what I can personally do, and what can be done within my organisation. I really hope I will be in a situation where I can attend again next year!

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