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Peter Mellor, Project Manager
As we approach the end of our current round of funding, we now have the opportunity to spread and share the learning from all of our completed and ongoing CLAHRC GM projects. I was happy to volunteer to help promote one such piece of work at the upcoming 2019 European Neuro Convention. In this blog I will be talking about the highlights and learning opportunities from attending the convention to share the work we have done over the past three years as part of our Stroke programme working with Greater Manchester Connected Health Cities. Connected Health Cities (CHC) is a digital health programme that works across the whole of the north of England, and I was really pleased to have been a part of the great work that we at CLAHRC have been doing in partnership with the GM CHC. On the evening of the 25th March 2019, Katie McCall (CHC communications lead), and I headed to the NEC Birmingham to begin set-up for our presentation stand. Our stand was solely focusing on the CHC stroke project, which ran as a CLAHRC project until March 2019 and consisted of three workstreams, which you can read about in full on the CLAHRC GM website:
After arriving on the Monday evening to get things set up, the convention kicked off on Tuesday morning with the large NEC hall hosting the Neuro, Imaging, and Oncology conferences simultaneously. The benefits of holding the three health-focused conferences in the same hall were clear, as there was noticeable crossover from the attendees of each of the three conventions. Aside from the stroke and neurology specialists attending the neuro convention, our CHC stall received a lot of additional attention from attendees of the imaging conference, as many of the imaging specialists had an interest in stroke and neuroscience as a whole. Our neighbouring stalls at the convention, which were mainly dedicated to brain injury, were keen to also discuss the holistic approach to stroke diagnosis, prevention, and care alongside the treatment of brain injury, as these two often need to be addressed side-by-side.
I had some really interesting conversation and discussion with a clinical team from Peterborough who spoke about the work they’d been doing around challenging the incorrect diagnosis of stroke; this resonated with our own work on the Stroke Mimics project which also focussed on misdiagnosed strokes. Over the two days of the conference, many clinicians, students, and members of the public from across the UK, continental Europe, and even as far as Trinidad and Tobago, wondered if the work could be scaled and spread into their localities and professions, which was really positive in showing the enthusiasm and demand for this work to continue outside of Greater Manchester. Similarly Katie and I spoke with a private biomedical team who were working in other areas to assist in the early identification through stroke using in-ambulance data and app development.
On the Wednesday of the conference, Dr Adrian Parry-Jones and Dr Camilla Sammut-Powell presented the CHC stroke work for which we had printed and distributed promotional leaflets to attendees on both days, resulting in a good turnout for the presentation. We also had visitors later in the day who were keen to hear more about our work and asked us to email the slides to them directly.
My key learning points from the event and thoughts for the future
Being a part of an event with such a wide-reaching audience really proved to me that the CHC stroke work that we have done in Greater Manchester could be of benefit to a much wider audience and could help improve the way that stroke care is delivered by many different professional teams. As a whole it seems like there is a desire from everyone, from senior clinical staff to academics and members of the public, that stroke care needs to be, and can be improved; there is a lot more we can be doing to make sure that the people who are at risk of stroke can be better cared for. The multi-disciplinary nature of the conference and the inclusion of the oncology and imaging conferences in the same venue showed me how much potential there is for integration of stroke car with things such as improved imaging techniques, better care for brain injury, and other areas such as psychological conditions and mental health. As with so many parts of delivering healthcare and healthcare research, integration across teams, disciplines, and individuals may be a key factor in improving the way we work and deliver care.
In terms of actually attending and presenting our work in the convention setting, it was really valuable to have a wide range of project team members in attendance at various points across the two days. The communications, clinical health, non-clinical management, and research team members all presented differing views on the project and were better able to address the various aspects of the project that the wide range of attendees were interested in. The promotional flyers and branded merchandise were very effective at drawing attention to our stand and drumming up enthusiasm for discussion around our work. It was great to use these materials to spread the word about our successes so widely throughout the event and to directly promote our scheduled presentation using dedicated flyers with the time and location; I feel this really drove up the interest in the presentation.
Overall the convention was a great experience that gave me the chance to engage with people from all sorts of backgrounds and locations, and the feedback we had on our work was largely positive (not to mention being told we had the best merchandise on offer). Personally, the conversations I had with so many conference attendees really backed up my belief that the work we have delivered so far needs to continue beyond the end of the CHC funding.