At a glance: PROs prepare for NICE annual conference

When is the auspicious event? Next week, 7-8 December, at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. It’s open to anyone willing to stump up the money, but typically it attracts senior healthcare directors, as well as clinicians and policy makers.

What are the attractions for PROs?
The conference provides excellent opportunities for networking, promoting products and services and maximising sales in the
healthcare marketplace.

Hmm. I'm not sure NICE would see it quite like that...
On the contrary – that description comes direct from the conference website. It's a highly influential audience, so meeting and greeting
will be a major part of what goes on. There aren't that many times in the year when delegates of this calibre will all be in the same place.

And healthcare PR agencies will be represented there?
PROs will be both attending and exhibiting. Oh, and there's Edwina Currie, too.

What a draw. Will she be signing novels?
No, talking. The former health minister is participating in a debate on the 'nanny state', with issues such as government control of smoking and diet on the agenda. Ex-health secretary Frank Dobson will also be on the podium.

Is there a theme for the conference?
The emphasis next week will be on public health, in part to reflect NICE's amalgamation with the Health Development Agency last April. Anyone with an interest in regulatory and lobbying issues, for instance, will have a lot to listen to. Speakers will highlight best practice, offer case studies and talk about research and development initiatives.

What about therapeutic areas to be covered?
There's a wide range, from mental to sexual health, paediatrics to oncology. There are also sessions on issues such as implementation in primary care and cost-effectiveness in public health.

What else is going on?
Well, in the unlikely event that you tire of the platform speeches, there's the Tuesday night dinner. And you can always join the 'Get Fit With NICE' session and take part in pilates and what the brochure calls 'circuit fun'. There are still places available at the conference.

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