Harrogate International Centre, 6–9 October 2008
The annual Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP) Congress hosts the biggest medical devices exhibition in the UK. This year’s theme was ‘Guiding Practice, Assuring Standards’ – with both the Congress and the Exhibition displaying a strong emphasis on patient-centred care.
This year, for the fi rst time, the Patients Association held its SUMMIT Conference together with the AfPP Congress (on 7 October), looking at issues of patient safety in the NHS.
The total number of delegates at this year’s AfPP Congress was nearly 1700. In her opening address, AfPP President Jane Reid said: “Our Exhibition continues as the largest of its kind in the UK, and we value greatly our industry partners for their contribution.”
Devices on display
The Exhibition was spread over four halls. 160 healthcare companies showcased their innovative products and services. Resources for every aspect of perioperative care were on display: wound care, surgical systems and devices, anaesthesia, theatre management, patient monitoring, infection prevention and more. Patient safety was a recurrent theme, reflected in technologies for patient identification and care pathway management as well as decontamination and disposal.
Innovative products and services were much in evidence. Montagu Clinical Simulation Centre demonstrated a ‘breathing’ dummy used to train surgeons. Safe Patient Systems displayed the RFID patient wristbands recently noted by Lord Darzi as making a significant contribution to patient safety. A mobile hospital from Nuffield Health Mobile Services displayed surgical and scanning facilities in a single walk-in vehicle.
The need to capture the attention of delegates led to some imaginative displays. Covidien demonstrated sushi and teriyaki cuisine as well as surgical technology. Mölnlycke provided a ‘Surgery through the ages’ wall frieze, ‘meet the expert’ sessions, demonstrations of product use and a photo-frame where delegates could become part of a Victorian operating theatre. Sunlight Clinical Solutions offered a video karaoke solution to the AfPP’s disco needs.
Stand and deliver
For the first time, Health Sector Publishing had its own stand at the Exhibition. We gained many new subscribers to On Target
within the medtech industry. There was also much interest in our new Healthcare Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey (launched in our October issue).
We discussed the magazine, the survey and the rapidly-evolving healthcare market with professionals from exhibiting companies and from the NHS. Feedback from medtech companies is vital to us – after all, this is your trade journal: we’re just the delivery system.
Following the AfPP Congress, we are happy to announce the results of our special On Target
subscription prize draw:
• A bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne was won by Elisabeth Butler (Becton Dickinson).
• A Virgin Experience Day was won by David Herd (Tristel Solutions).
• An iPod Shuffle was won by Helena Makowski (Covidien).
Doing SUMMIT right
The Patients Association held its SUMMIT conference in a hall adjoining the AfPP Congress. It brought together delegates from patient groups and NHS trusts, as well as high-profi le speakers from the Department of Health and elsewhere, to discuss crucial issues affecting patient safety in the NHS.
The conference began with some powerful first-hand accounts from patients and relatives of patients, describing cases where failure of the NHS to protect vulnerable patients had led to serious consequences. Forceful speeches by Claire Raynor and Sir Richard Branson – President and Vice-President of the Patients Association respectively – outlined the key priorities facing the NHS in keeping patients safe.
Then it was the turn of health officials to explain how these issues are being addressed at the level of policy. Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer for England, looked at the key questions that hospital trusts need to ask. Anna Walker, Chief Executive of the Healthcare Commission, discussed the need for systematic monitoring and discussion of adverse incidents. Stephen Ramsden, Chief Executive of Luton & Dunstable NHS Foundation Trust, looked at ways of making patient safety “an explicit strategic priority”.
Lord Darzi, Under-Secretary of State for Health and architect of the NHS Next Stage Review, gave a talk grounded in his experience as a consultant hospital surgeon. He discussed the working principles of whole-team safety in surgery, including the role of new ‘safety technologies’ such as ‘smart’ sponges and swabs that can scan the patient for retained items.
For delegates mindful of the role of the medtech industry in providing solutions to the challenges of patient safety, there was much here to consider about the value of new medical technologies in service redesign. The challenge of patient-centred care is a crucial opportunity for medtech companies as they seek to arm the health service of the future.