Planning a conference is hard work. Arranging one linked to the healthcare sector is doubly difficult. Indeed, medical gatherings must not only tick the usual boxes concerning location, facilities, catering and equipment, but also adhere to strict legislation.
These do’s and don’ts are defined by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. More on them later.
Healthcare conferences however are essential to the betterment of the NHS. Their very existence provides a platform in which management, surgeons, doctors, nurses and even administrative staff can air views. Where better to debate issues, highlight successes, lament failures and generally learn new practices?
Whether a conference, seminar or workshop, a meeting of minds helps to engage NHS staff, whose tireless work underpin a much-loved pillar of British society.
When it comes to hosting such figures it pays to have a handful of venues earmarked. The NHS - and issues relating to it - are hot news. Barely a day goes by without reference to medical breakthroughs, wait times or budgets.
As such conferences are rightly topical and can be called at very short notice. Securing a location at the drop of a hat is fanciful but a good event organiser will have several in mind which can accommodate large numbers with little warning. Having a list of ‘just in case’ locations that adhere to the various healthcare conference regulations is recommended. Establish those contacts if you can.
Take a look here for further information on what to look for in a healthcare conference venue.
EASY ACCESS & LOCATION
Important too are transport links. Attendance can be attributed to the quality and standing of speakers, subject matter, and dates yes, but forget not ease of access. Identify a location that can be reached by road, rail and air if you anticipate visitors flying in for the occasion. In short, remove any reason for abstention.
Those excuses extend to parking and nearby hotel accommodation also. Subsidising either is complex – as we will touch upon shortly – but providing choice means you have fulfilled your job as a host.
Elsewhere the type of location you secure is subject to a rather exhaustive checklist. At a headline level the venue must be conducive to the event itself. That is to say extravagant, glitzy locales are a no-go. Also deemed inappropriate are any sites synonymous with providing entertainment, unless the entertainment is paid for by the delegates themselves.
This stance clearly casts doubts on the suitability of hotels. If those running the operation commit to cordoning off on-site attractions for the duration of your stay they can be booked. Any evidence of beauty treatments, golfing or arcading however will see you fall foul of acceptable standards, again unless paid for by the delegates themselves.
Consider also that no payment can be given to doctors or other prescribers for the rental of rooms intended for use in this scenario. This is not permissible, even if booking fees are earmarked for new equipment of charitable donations.
As with all matters pertaining to the NHS expenditure looms large. It is no secret hospitals in England have run up a record deficit to the tune of billions of pounds. Understandably then, large outlays for healthcare conferences are somewhat frowned upon.
That said, organisers should not scrimp on quality. Competitive rates are available at respectable and suitable locations, providing they can be unearthed. Attracting large numbers is a complicated task if you hire out a less than satisfactory venue. Find a happy medium where possible.
Settling on a location is to sign off on its facilities and equipment. Do not simply presume the likes of Wi-Fi, widescreens, projectors, microphones, tables, chairs and appropriate lighting come as standard. They do not. Look into what is available on-site and determine whether or not additional arrangements should be made.
Remember also many healthcare conferences come with exhibitions built-in. Presenting both guest speakers and galleries in one room is ambitious. You would ideally seek out a spill over area or adjoining lounge large enough to house further items related to the main event.
It makes sense to try before you buy when preparing a conference, so request license to roam and evaluate suitability as early as possible. Not only that but obtain entry the night before to allow thorough preparatory work.
Those specialising in the healthcare sector are busy professionals who can ill afford to sit idly whilst you tackle technical issues which should long since have been ironed out.
If the aforementioned advice was simple enough to follow staying on the right side of ABPI rulings is far harder.
Clause 19 of their Code of Practice Authority document makes for essential reading, if only to avoid sanctions! Within it are guidelines for what constitutes acceptable meetings, hospitality and sponsorship.
Predictably perhaps the level of subsistence permitted for attendees is basic at best. Those in-charge are advised to provide no more than what an attendee would reasonably be expected to pay for themselves. This can translate to little more than £20 per head where food and drink are concerned.
Handouts are few and far between with spouse and family members excluded from this allowance. The latter is strictly for healthcare professionals and administrative staff only.
The types of hospitality approved are listed by the ABPI so as to avoid confusion:
Organisers can freely offer up:
- Refreshments (meals and drinks)
- Genuine registration fees
- Reasonable travel costs (for delegate ONLY)
Incentivising would-be guests with financial reward is of course forbidden, along with travel expenses for those seeking economy class – this is unless they are being sponsored to attend.
In conclusion then, a great deal of thought and pre-planning goes into the staging of a successful healthcare conference. With the venue itself taking centre stage in a number of ways. Ensuring you choose the right one is crucial to the success of your healthcare conference.
Remember too that Lane End have experience of hosting such events and meeting all criteria. Contact us today to discuss requirements.