I was so excited to hear from Gary Jones CBE, that he was in discussion with Lynda Holt, Brian Dolan and Gabby Lomas to resurect our emergency nursing conference, and even more exited when our FEN president was invited to be a part of the planning group, so that we could launch a joint conference. I was also pleased that the ECA were involved too.

When I think back to yesteryear, when I was working on the front line in ED; I recall the excitement of that long bonfire weekend in November. It was always a weekend to remember for meeting up with friends, learning, sharing and partying, one that recharged my batteries for the coming year. 

Conference to me was family, an emergency nursing family, one in which I knew that I had so much commonality with others. We all had same or similar pressures and problems. Going to conference gave us the feel that we were not battling alone. We discussed the pressures on our services and had an opportunity to feed our concerns to the RCN ECA forum so that they would take our problems forward and champion on our behalf, with a strong voice and support from Emergency Nurses across the UK. 

It was also a time of learning, we learned how colleagues in other departments managed their problems or issues and this gave us insight on what we could do differently back at base. We learned innovative new ways of providing care and this helps us to ensure that our practice was up to date, evidence based and good for our patients. 

It was also a time for shared problem solving. Here we discussed how a common issue could be fixed and found that we could be part of the bigger solution. This was also a platform to become involved with projects regionally or nationally.

At this time, I was the Competency Lead on the Faculty of Emergency Nursing Board. We worked so closely with the ECA. Conference meant that we could inform of progress and receive feedback for further development. 

When I was attending conference, I attended as part of the ECA Committee  as I was the editor of the ECA newsletter, so conference for us meant work – in the most enjoyable way of course. I got to work with friends, speak to so many people, hear colleagues stories, presented papers so built my own portfolio. 

And then there was the partying…. OMG…  it was full on. This is how my conference paned out…..  Arrive on the Thursday evening, pack conference bags for delegates, have a working dinner organising roles and responsibilities for the next 2½ packed days. Then into the bar, meet with old friends and make new ones. Next morning up early, breakfast (as I got older I skipped this as couldn’t do late nights and early mornings) then on to registration or putting flyers etc on delegates chairs. Listen to plenary sessions, run around with roving mike, chair concurrent sessions, somehow fit in coffee breaks and lunch, then host or attend special interest meetings after the conference sessions finished. Quick turn around, – one occasion I remember having 15 minutes –  sprayed my long blond hair black, put on my Cruella d’ville fancy dress and off to go. Pre-dinner drinks with friends before going to dinner, entertainment and party. Late night and then start all over again the next day.  It was so full on, some of us stayed the night conference ended too as I don’t think it would have been safe to drive home from the Daresbury.

We really did live up to our motto – work hard and play hard. Enjoyed every minute. And then it was gone – long story and not for sharing here. 

But here we are again, starting it all back up again for a new generation of emergency nurses to have what we had, shared opportunities, learning, informing to enable political pressure, seeing old friends, making new ones, having fun. So pleased that FEN is very much part of this.

Please come and join us and make this conference as much of a success as it was. We have a fantastic programme.   

Judith Morgan, Immediate Past President FEN.

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