This was the first face-to-face meeting for members since the joint announcement about the possible establishment of a College of Audiology and therefore one of the first opportunities for comment and discussion across the profession. The protagonists in the BAA, BSA and BSHAA, along with the National Community Hearing Association(NCHA) have been considering how they might create a strong and unified voice to raise the profile, credibility and influence of the audiology community. A College of Audiology is felt to be a way to achieve a more powerful voice for audiologists.
To help take the conversation forward, the conference heard from the chief executive of the Royal College for Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) about the power of a unified voice. Kamini Gadhok spoke about the RCSLT’s journey to an established royal college and what they can achieve because of this status. The RCSLT works with decision-makers at a national level to lobby for improvements to health and education policy in their area – something that a strong, unified voice enables.
Clare Perkins from Public Health England took this unifying voice to the next stage to consider the potential impact on public education and awareness messaging. She told delegates that there are only two indicators related to hearing on PHE’s health outcomes framework, the main tool used by PHE to monitor health improvements in England. Getting more indicators on there is a target for the whole audiology sector, as well as influencing the health prevention green paper, which is due in the summer.
An afternoon of workshops looked at how UK audiologists can work together to deliver a unified voice for the whole profession. With more in common than divides, members from all three professional bodies covering various roles in audiology explored ways of raising the profile of audiology; key messaging for the public; and celebrating audiology to encourage the next generation of entrants.
There was a good level of consensus from workshop attendees on the key messaging that the audiology profession should use going forward, along with commonalities in the way delegates believe the profile of audiology can be lifted. More information on the workshop feedback will be available soon.
The event ended with a question-and-answer session involving Andrew Coulter, BSHAA president; Sue Falkingham, BAA president; Ted Killan, BSA chair; and NCHA chief executive David Hewlett.
If you weren’t at the conference, you can still make sure that your voice is heard by emailing BSHAA president Andrew Coulter at firstname.lastname@example.org. More opportunities to have your say are coming as all three bodies look to contimue engaging with members. The leaders of BSHAA, BAA and BSA will be holding another Q&A session at the BSHAA Congress on 22 June at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry as part of a packed day of learning, networking and engagement.