Audiology Conferences 2022: The British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists



PW     Outgoing BSHAA President Raúl García-Medina (left) hands over to new President Robert Donnan.

Saturday, September 17, 2022 brought the BSHAA buzzing back together from the social erasure of Covid-19 restrictions. The Society's annual conference, held In a remote Oxfordshire setting, generated warmth and engagement from delegates and a buoyant industry exhibition.

It had been a long time since members of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (BSHAA) had a face-to-face encounter. “We wanted to give something back to members,” said President Raúl García-Medina, explaining the purpose of a conference planned as a one-day event, and held in the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton, a few fields south-east of the city of Oxford.

Proving a well-matched set of rooms for the 120 (including exhibitors) who attended the Conference, the venue gave delegates an opportunity to fulfil an obvious longing to congregate, update, network, and to just break bread with fellow professionals. Though the limited programme still offered plenty of interest, it was the sense of coming together again that provided the real buzz at this event.

PW       BSHAA President Raúl García-Medina opens his Society's 2022 Annual Conference

Industry in force

Hearing device manufacturers set up in the exhibition space alongside professional groups such as the British Academy of Audiology (BAA) and the Association of Independent Hearing Healthcare Professionals (AIHHP). Retailer Specsavers was a much visited stand, as were the major producers present: Starkey, Widex, Signia, Amplivox, among others

PW       The Starkey stand was a lively spot in the BSHAA 2022 industry exhibition

Too little regard in public health for the work of audiologists

Sessions on CPD and Partial VAT exemption proved popular in the now well accepted BSHAA small workshop format, while a motivation-based talk by Alison Edgar MBE helped foster an interactive mood at the beginning of the day. Professional standards came under scrutiny as BSHAA CEO David Welbourn was joined by Council member Rory Kewney for a talk on Care Quality Commission (CQC) responsibilities. “In the general regulations, hearing aid dispensers are not recognised as a clinical discipline,” Welbourn told a pensive audience, adding: “For the vast majority in this room, I assume that is an insult.”

PW      Alison Edgar MBE talked up the entrepreneurial qualities of working as an audiologist

The question of low regard for hearing care professionals within the overall public health domain was also highlighted in a revealing separate presentation - HCPC friend or foe? - by Dr. Gareth R. Davies, Head of Insight and Analytics with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Dr. Rakesh Chopra gives excellent presentation on hearing disorders

It was an eminently practical clinical speech on Disorders of the Ear that pretty much stole the show, Dr. Rakesh Chopra’s concise, well judged delivery giving his audience a digestible amount of information on conditions they are likely to come across when examining patients. And it was clear that many had encountered examples of the situations Dr. Chopra so sprucely described. His was a short session, but it held the attention, moved with a captivating rhythm, and employed a winning balance of essential terminology, vernacular, and humour on such subjects as tympanosclerosis, glue ear, otitis media, and cholesteatomas.

PW      Dr. Rakesh Chopra gave a succinct presentation on Hearing Disorders.

A nationally recognised teacher of ENT in Primary Care, Chopra is himself a GP, working for the St. Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust for the last 18 years. “I’ve spoken to about 14,000 GPs till now, and over the length and breadth of the country, how good are GPs at examining the ear?” he asked his audience. The answers came back, one of them “rubbish”. Acknowledging the opinion, “There you go, you’re absolutely right,” japed Chopra back at them. And from there, via an anatomical starting point, he began showing a series of examples, most of which you can read about in a two-part Rakesh Chopra article beginning in this issue of Audio Infos.

PW      Dr. Rakesh Chopra (centre), flanked by key BSHAA figures, Education lead Dr. Elizabeth Adesugba, outgoing President Raúl García-Medina, Finance Co-chair Tasso Papadopoulos, and new President Rob Donnan.

New BSHAA President Robert Donnan

Delegates at the Association’s Oxford meeting witnessed the formal presidential transition from Raúl García-Medina’s leadership to new incumbent President Robert J. Donnan, whose brief first conference address emphasised the education BSHAA offers through its webinars and regional meetings, as well as access to an app that now has 500 registered users.

Donnan underlined the recently presented medical malpractice liability insurance policy that BSHAA members receive free, saying he expected the policy to be improved by feedback from members who can access the full document online. “This will all end up with a wonderful member benefit, and I’ll work very very hard over the next couple of years to deliver even more member benefits,” Donnan told the floor.

PW Rob Donnan, who takes over the BSHAA presidency from autumn 2022.

PW      “This will all end up with a wonderful member benefit," said new BSHAA President Rob Donnan of the Society's free insurance policy for audiologists.

A strong advocate of independent ownership of hearing practices, Donnan co-founded a growing network of independent centres now approaching its fifteenth year. The Hearing Practice Group serves the North East, North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire, the East Midlands, and South Yorkshire.

Award for Starkey - further recognition within audiology for David Baguley

This event, a chance taken by the Association to compensate members for a tough pandemic period with zero handshakes and hugs, wound up with a gala dinner that recognised efforts made not only to the BSHAA but to audiology as a whole. Awards, unsurprisingly, included two posthumous accolades for Prof. Rev. David Baguley (read more: in the form of Best Contributor to Audiology Industry (voted for by BSHAA members)  and a Lifetime Achievement Award (nominated by BSHAA Council).

Meanwhile, joint winners of the BSHAA Council Member of the Year were Dr. Elizabeth Adesugba and Robert Donnan.

From the industry, Starkey Hearing Technologies were voted by BSHAA members as the Best Provider of Technical Support.

BSHAA has provided some video highlights of the conference here.

Source: Audio Infos UK issue 151 November-December