Working in communications during my first ever annual conference

Shannon Robinson profile picture

06 January 2022

Shannon Robinson
Digital Communications Assistant
NHS Providers


My time at NHS Providers began not long before its annual conference and exhibition so I was lucky enough to witness and experience a lot of the preparation process in the preceding months. Every effort was being made to ensure we produced an informative and engaging event for members. I learnt so much during this time not only about the organisation but about all the behind the scenes work that goes on in creating a flagship event like this.

Having heard so much about previous years and what was expected this time, I was eager to get stuck into the work I would be doing at the conference. As last year’s conference was virtual, there was quite a buzz about having the opportunity to return to a physical building once again, but as COVID-19 cases rose and operational pressures mounted, we made a decision based on safety, to revert to virtual.  However, the excitement was still alive and kicking.


Although the switch to virtual was disappointing, our programme fitted this format well, covering key topics including investment in the NHS workforce, sustainability and the work of trusts to work more collaboratively.

We were fortunate enough to have a range of diverse and impassioned speakers who effectively contributed to our conference.

Shannon Robinson    Digital Communications Assistant

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘together’. We were fortunate enough to have a range of diverse and impassioned speakers whose contributions lifted the  conference, despite having to hold it online rather than face to face. There was still lots of excitement about the speakers and their topics and this was highlighted through the Q&A segments to each session, everyone had a lot to say and was eager to get involved, which was great to see.

I was interested to compare this conference to that of previous years so I spoke to my marketing colleague Bethan Edwards who said: "This year marked my third year working on the annual conference and I still find it an incredible privilege to see all the hard work of my colleagues come to fruition and this year, develop a programme that was dynamic, important, and for me the best one yet!"

Looking at the programme, the session I was most looking forward to attending was the keynote speech by NHS England and NHS Improvement's chief executive Amanda Pritchard. As the first female chief executive of the NHS and a previous trust leader, I was intrigued to hear what her vision for the NHS was and how she planned to bring this to life. I wasn't disappointed either, Amanda spoke so clearly and passionately, allowing her humanity to shine through as she thanked NHS workers and explained her plan moving forward. We released the full recording in an episode of #TheProviderPodcast which you can listen to here.

Bethan also reflected on her highlight of the two-day conference which she pointed out was our day two plenary session on tackling the care backlog in a way that doesn’t exacerbate health inequalities. She called it honest and insightful as our panel spoke passionately about the impact of the pandemic on all parts of the population, their beliefs of what should happen next, what should be avoided and how to engage with communities on their needs.


This session in particular proved an important reminder on the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on those already facing the poorest health outcomes, and I cannot recommend enough that everyone watch the session back on our website.

Being able to work alongside my colleagues in the communications team and see all of our planning and hard work come to life while learning so much in the process was great.

Shannon Robinson    Digital Communications Assistant

Not only had I never attended an NHS Providers conference before, but I also hadn't had the opportunity to attend any corporate conference, so being able to work alongside my colleagues in the communications team and see all of our planning and hard work come to life while learning so much in the process was great. The whole experience was a great learning opportunity as I began to understand more about both NHS Providers and the health and social care sector as a whole and I’m proud of what we as an organisation accomplished when faced with some last-minute changes.


And ACE21 isn't over yet! Our Delivering with Partner sessions are being delivered as individual lunchtime webinars and continue over the next few weeks; you can see the programme for these here. Our breakout sessions will also be taking place as webinars in January and February 2022 and you can see details of these here.

You will need to register your place for each session you'd like to attend. Book your places here.

Next year's physical (fingers crossed) annual conference and exhibition is already scheduled in our diaries for 15-16 November 2022, be sure to also save the date now!

About the author

Shannon Robinson profile picture

Shannon Robinson
Digital Communications Assistant

Shannon Robinson is NHS Providers digital communications assistant. Prior to joining she completed a joint honour degree in English Language and Communications with Journalism at the University of Hertfordshire. Read more

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