In a stirring call to arms, delegates at the 2013 National Biomedical and Clinical Engineering Conference sponsored by Philips, have been invited to become ‘masters of their own destiny’ and take charge to ensure their voice is heard in the healthcare reform debate.
This challenge comes as a result of a survey which found that 65% of biomedics felt that their job was not secure; 36% felt they did not have adequate training and that 33% claimed they did not have regular team meetings where improvements could be discussed.
Event sponsor Philips facilitated the anonymous poll of biomedics in the weeks preceding the conference, which was completed by 41% of the 300 strong audience.
Delegates attending the conference held in Birmingham on October 17th at The National Motorcycle Museum, were moved to express their opinions following the presentation of ‘The Biomed Challenge: Benchmark Assessment’ survey results, by Peter Sutton, Global Business Process Excellence Director at Philips Healthcare.
A clear sense of frustration ran through the subsequent debate and interactive audience discussion with the main issue being the constant demand on biomedics to save pennies whilst pounds are seen to be wasted in other functions of the healthcare sector. A particular annoyance was that money was not available for the training of EBME technicians attributed in part to their role being perceived to be subordinate to that of clinical ones.
The key call to arms was that biomedics need to “put their heads together and work out where they wanted to go as a profession” so that when returning to next year’s conference they were able to report on progress as to what had been successfully achieved to date.
Speaker Mr. Manjit Obhrai, former Medical Director of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust agreed. As associate postgraduate Dean of Health Education West Midlands, Mr. Obhrai presented key findings from both the Francis and Berwick Reports into the failings at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust. He urged delegates to: “Find allies in powerbrokers who will influence change on your behalf. Emphasise patient safety to get people on your side and push your equipment to the top of the list. Biomedical engineering is not a background function – people need to listen to what you have to say.”
Key themes arose from the discussion, with the requirement to influence decision-makers and the need to forge one-to-one partnerships with equipment users emerging as top priorities
Speakers Prof. Chris Ham, Chief Executive of healthcare reform group The King’s Fund and David Barrett, nurse lecturer in the Faculty of Health and Social Care of University of Hull, both emphasised the growing importance of integrated Telehealth and Telecare in providing solutions. Prof. Ham said: “We all need to play our part in making these models a reality. It is the responsibility of those who hold the budget to monitor contracts, define standards and ensure all providers seek patient feedback.”
Other presentations included: ‘Exploring the New Frontier in Nano Technology by Dr Tamas Szakmany; an examination of the safety assurance process of Health Apps on the NHS Choices Library by Dr Sebastian Alexander and a presentation ‘Phineas’ Friends’ by photographer and father Michael Cockerham – a narrative project quantifying the 160 healthcare professionals involved in his son’s hospital admission.
Those attending the conference were also able to view an extensive exhibition that displayed the whole Philips solution available from hospital to home healthcare. Products revealed for the first time to this audience included: Philips IntelliSave AX700 anaesthesia workstation; the portable IntelliVue MX400 patient monitor featuring X2 interconnectivity and the brand new EPIQ Ultrasound system with anatomical intelligence capabilities. Delegates were also able to take advantage of Philips’ new fixed price bench repair for multi-measurement servers and find out about the latest Biomedical training courses.
Managing Director of Philips Healthcare, Neil Mesher UK and Ireland, said: “The pace of change in healthcare is incredible and this event goes from strength to strength as a forum for addressing those issues. At Philips we welcome all feedback from biomedical and clinical engineers with the aim of shaping solutions to suit our customers’ needs.”