The Managing Director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) Martin Flaherty declared the eleventh Ambulance Leadership Forum, “the best yet” as over 250 delegates from the UK and abroad attended the event between May 20/23, 2013.
Supported by Lightfoot Solutions and held at Chesford Grange Hotel in Warwickshire, the event comprised two main strands – the Ambulance Leadership Forum Conference and the College of Paramedics Conference which also hosted the UK meeting of the International Roundtable on Community Paramedicine.
Said Mr Flaherty “Each year ALF grows in stature and provides senior people in the ambulance service, from here and abroad, with the opportunity to explore new ideas, hear new thinking on key ambulance-related topics and network with colleagues from all over the world. Initially started as an invitation only event designed for the strategic development of the English ambulance services, ALF has now become a major catalyst for the improvement of patient care, because it is where new ideas can take shape that will ultimately benefit patients.”
The event began on Monday 20 May with a welcome reception for overseas visitors and members of the International Roundtable on Community Paramedicine. Delegates from as far afield as Australia, Hong Kong, the USA and Canada were seen renewing old acquaintances and making new introductions late into the evening.
Prior to the formal opening of the conference, special mention was made of the devastation caused by the Tornado that hit near Oklahoma overnight. As casualty numbers and the extent of the damage became clearer thoughts turned to EMS staff and their families caught up in the unfolding disaster.
The College of Paramedics conference started with a welcome from Anthony Marsh, Chair of AACE, who was delighted to welcome clinicians and managers alike and emphasised the obvious synergies between the parallel conference streams on offer at this year’s ALF. The day’s programme, put together by Andy Sharman, a Specialist Paramedic Primary Care/Paramedic Practitioner, had a strong focus on developing the profession and differing methods of supporting care delivery. International attendees engaged in healthy discussion on the many shared issues and similarities across the world.
Steve Irving, Executive Officer at AACE and organiser of ALF said: “Alongside the early main conference, workstream sessions and peer group meetings were very well attended and the Chief Executive’s Group had a very productive meeting with, amongst others, the College of Paramedics presenting to them on priorities and areas of common interest. It was really good to see that by Tuesday evening, over 200 delegates and guests were in attendance at the awards dinner. It was a really special evening with patriotic cheering for regional prize winners and an excellent after dinner speech from Flt Lt (retd) Mandy Hickson.”
The ALF Conference delegates were particularly interested in the opening presentation on 111 given by Janette Turner of the University of Sheffield’s Medical Care Research Unit, which stimulated a variety of questions. Professor Keith Willett’s keynote address followed and he gave a personal view on change within the NHS that resonated with many present. Nigel Edwards of the King’s Fund shared his views on recent system changes and their impact on the NHS in his well-recognised forthright manner.
Two international speakers in Tony Ahern, Chief Executive of St John Ambulance in Western Australia and Kenneth Kronohage of Falck Denmark made delegates think about worldwide comparisons in ambulance service provision. Sharon Lamb of law firm Capsticks spoke to the audience about competition and co-operation for Foundation Trusts – of particular interest to the domestic audience in these days of increasing collaboration within an environment of complex corporate law. Dr Phil Leather of Zeal Solutions bought his vast experience as a behavioural psychologist to assist in meeting the challenge of developing effective leaders in ambulance services.
Vij Randeniya, President of the Chief Fire Officers Association and Chief Fire Officer of West Midlands Fire Service gave a particularly interesting (and prescient given the recent launch of the Knight report) speech where he focused on areas where the fire and ambulance services could work more closely together to improve services for the communities we serve. It was particularly interesting to hear just how many visits fire service personnel make to residential premises and the number of contacts they have with vulnerable and ‘at risk’ citizens, an obvious area for future discussion between interested parties.
Greg Mundy, CEO of the Council of Ambulance Authorities (Australasia) and Gary Wingrove, Director of Government Relations and Strategic Affairs at Gold Cross/Mayo Clinic Medical Transport (USA) then gave a joint presentation on international perspectives on EMS, and again highlighted how many of our issues are in fact common around the world in EMS and Ambulance services. ALF was delighted to welcome Lord Howe, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Quality at the Department of Health, who paid fulsome tribute to all working in NHS ambulance services for delivery yet again against stringent targets in the face of rising demand. Integration was a key theme and the pivotal role ambulance services play across health care disciplines was highlighted. Pioneering pilot projects to encourage integration are expected later this year with innovative new ideas and multidisciplinary delivery teams.
The day was rounded off with closing remarks by AACE Managing Director Martin Flaherty, who thanked all for contributing to an excellent event and encouraged all delegates to contribute feedback to help influence the format of next year’s meeting.
For more information about ALF, contact Steve Irving at firstname.lastname@example.org
[The equivalent of over $500 was collected during the event to go directly to EMS personnel and their families who had suffered loss in the Oklahoma disaster]