The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) held its annual conference on 6-8 October 2023 at the Lancashire Country Cricket Club, Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester. The conference on the theme of ‘NHS Inequalities: Policies, Solutions & Implementation’.
Day 1 started with a welcome by Marimouttou Coumarassamy, the Founder and Chairman of the British Indian Nurses Association (BINA). This was followed by a keynote address from Duncan Burton, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer – Workforce & Maternity Operations, NHS England & NHS Improvement.
The discussions during the day focused on a range of topics including empowering nurses, workforce training, gender inequality in the NHS, artificial intelligence and digital health. Speakers and panellists for the day included Stefen Colfar (Director of Nursing and AHP Workforce NW at NHS England), Chris Dzikiti (Director of Mental Health, Quality Care Commission), Anne-Marie Varney (Group Director of Nursing for Workforce and Education at MFT), David Carter (CEO of Bedfordshire NHS Foundation Trust), Prof. Ged Byrne (Director of Global Engagement at Health Education England), Prof. Dame Parveen Kumar (Emeritus Professor, Barts and the London School of Medicine), Prof Ben Bridgewater (CEO, Health Innovation Manchester), Martin O’Keefe (Senior Clinical Informatics Leader, NHS England), Mark Nicholas (Clinical Director and Chief Social Worker, NHS
Digital), Prof. Rowan Pritchard-Jones (Medical Director, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside), Asma Nafees (Deputy Customer Account Director for Arden and GEM CSU), Anindya Chakravorty (Founder, Telesoft Neutek) as well as Vian Omar and Gopika Nair (Final Year Medical Students at the University of Buckingham).
Day 2 began with a story telling session organised by the BAPIO health & well-being forum. Following this, the delegates were welcomed by Prof. JS Bamrah, chair of the conference organising committee and the conference was formally inaugurated by Andy Burnham, elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, who also spoke passionately about the impact BAPIO has had on the NHS. The morning sessions included keynote speeches by Prof Aneez Esmail (University of Manchester) on eradicating discrimination in the NHS, Prof. Kevin Fenton (Public Health England) on addressing racial disparities in health outcomes and Dr Navina Evans (Chief Workforce, Training and Education Officer NHS England) on the NHS long-term workforce plan. There was also a talk by Prof. Parag Singhal on the importance of skilled workforce and a plenary session chaired by Prof. Dame Jane Dacre and Prof Iqbal Singh which focused on GMC-related issues. Shaun Gallagher, Director of Strategy & Policy at the GMC spoke about making medical regulation equitable. The morning concluded with another session organised by the BAPIO health & well-being forum.
One of the highlights of the afternoon was the Research & Innovation Competition organised by Prof. Roshelle Ramkisson and Prof Indranil Chakravorty where short-listed candidates presented their research to a panel of judges who selected winners in a range of categories. Running in parallel to R&I competition, there were engaging sessions on challenges and solutions to the general practice crisis led by Dr Kamal Sidhu, Chair of the BAPIO GP Forum and long COVID led by Dr Binita Kane, including guest lectures by Dr. Chaand Nagpaul (past Chair of the BMA Council) and Prof. Phil Banfield (current Chair of the BMA Council). The day ended with a session hosted by Medical Defence Shield and a spirited debate on whether ACCIA awards should be scrapped.
During the evening of 7 October, 250 delegates and guests attended a drinks reception and gala dinner catered by Sai Spice. The entertainment for the evening included stunning Indian classical and modern Bollywood dances by Nritya Ram Mohan, Shivani Sharma, Malika Kapasi, and Sonia Sharma.
Dr. Ramesh Mehta, President of BAPIO, welcomed everyone and updated the attendees on BAPIO’s progress in recent months including its intention to become a charitable foundation. He then invited Dr. Shashank Vikram, Counsel General of India in Birmingham, and the chief guest, Richard Mitchell, Chief Executive of University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust to say a few words. The Awards ceremony celebrated the achievements of nine colleagues over the past year, with Presidential awards for Dr Ranee Thakar, President of the RCOG for ‘Outstanding Leadership’ and Dr Habib Naqvi for ‘Race Equality Champion’. Post-dinner, celebrated singer Navin Kundra got everyone on the dance floor with his energetic performance and he was followed by a DJ and dance session.
Day 3 of the conference started with a meditation session for interested delegates. The first talk of the day was by Prof. Dame Jane Dacre who spoke about the changing nature of medicine, followed by a passionate debate on IA and Covid effects on training organised by BAPIO Young Doctors Forum leads Navaneeth Natarajan and Ajit Singh Oberoi and panellists including Dr Latifa Patel, Chair of BMA’s Representative Body and Tista Chakravorty-Gannon, GMC’s Regional Adviser. The next two session were: the BAPIO Paediatric forum led by the Chair, Dr Renu Jainer, and the SAS/LED forum led by Dr Gajanan with Dr Ujjwala Mohite, the BMA’s SAS Chair giving details on possible IA and how dissatisfied SAS doctors are working in the NHS. After this, we heard from Dr. Habib Naqvi (CEO, NHS Race and Health Observatory) who spoke about the plans to make the NHS a better place and Prof Mahendra Patel, CEO Centre for Research Equity, University of Oxford, who emphasised the need for research equity and representative recruitment to clinical trials. There were also discussions on the future of Integrated Care Systems led by Raj Jain, Chair of Cheshire and Merseyside ICB and Dr Vishal Mehra, Director Manchester Primary Care Partnership, as well as a debate on whether Physician Associates are an asset to the NHS. Day 3 concluded with a symposium on Dementia in Diversity Alliance, a partnership between BAPIO and the Universities of Bradford, Northampton and Hertfordshire. At the end of the symposium, Dr. Ramesh Mehta launched the inaugural project of the alliance, ‘Improving the Lives of South Asian Families experiencing dementia (ILSAF)’.