As is the tradition with projects funded under the Leonardo Da Vinci programme they normally culminate in a final conference where the final project deliverables and outputs are disseminated to a wider stakeholder group.
The EUHCWM project did not break with tradition and on 10th November 2016 it hosted, in partnership with the National Health Service, National Performance Advisory Group, Best Value Group for Waste, a final event in Birmingham.
It was an excellent event with an international speaker programme and a high quality of delegates who all came directly from the field of healthcare waste management. It was very pleasing to see some many professional healthcare waste managers attend the event. There were some 75 delegates registered on the day which was an excellent turn out for such a niche conference.
It was good see such a diverse group of delegates, representing EU Member and Candidate/Accession States, at the event. It is excellent to see that, in the latter cases, the issue of HCWM is already firmly on their national agendas.
The speaker programme reflected the scope of the project itself and there were contributions from strategic as well as operational perspectives. It was particularly pleasing to be able to showcase best practices from around the UK and the EU with excellent presentations from both NPAG and project team members in this regard.
It was particularly interesting to hear from the NHS Sustainability Unit which obviously has a much broader remit than the focus of the project. None the less it was an important strategic overview of the NHS Sustainability Agenda, of which waste management is no doubt a key component.
There was an excellent overview presented of the work of the ZERO Waste Europe group and also a very informative presentation, by the NHS Confederation, on the challenges for the health service in the light of the BREXIT vote. In addition there was also a very interesting presentation from Greece on the impact of the financial crisis on their healthcare services.
The final sessions of the project focused on healthcare waste management and there was excellent presentation on HCWM projects on both the African continent and, closer to home, in Albania.
The conference concluded with project partners delivering three presentations on the future development of a Pan-European Professional Network of healthcare waste management professionals and vocational qualification providers; an overview of the new e-learning portal based on the Moodle programme and lastly an overview of the projects actions in regard to implementation of the project outputs.
Currently the project partners are in discussion with the International Solid Waste Association about an agreement to take forward a formal training agenda across the EU for healthcare waste managers in each of the three roles.
The UK partner is in addition in discussions with the NHS to have these vocational qualifications available to healthcare waste management professionals throughout the UK and as a formal vocational qualification aligned to the national vocational qualification framework.