conference focus

A listless annual general meeting of the Institute of Health Services Management was enlivened by a lone voice demanding 'a fundamental debate... to ensure we want the organisation to survive'.

County Durham health authority chief executive Ken Jarrold reissued a plea made last year for proper consideration to be given to the purpose of the organisation as it moved towards merger with the Association of Managers in General Practice.

Welcoming the 'sober and realistic' way president Peter Homa acknowledged the failures and difficulties behind the IHSM's£375,000 deficit, Mr Jarrold said: 'There is no good cause for celebration on the record before us today.'

He urged the council 'to seek to engage the younger members of the institute in really being sure that we want the organisation to survive'.

'The debate needs to be as fundamental as that. Only then can we begin the process of renewal.'

Mr Homa conceded that Mr Jarrold had spoken for 'many in this room and those unable to have the opportunity to be here', and promised to take forward the comment with 'the seriousness it deserves'.

The council's resolution to increase subscriptions awoke similar feelings from IHSM member Paul Scriven.

An organisation 'losing its customers, lacking all direction, and with a big pool of customers it cannot attract' should not increase subscriptions to address a 'lack of financial management'.

'How much longer is this going to go on? We need something radical, and don't imagine more money is the answer,' he warned.

The resolution to increase subscriptions was carried, with backing from members who pointed out that the rise to£123.60 a year did little more than match inflation.

A final vote on merger with the AMGP was also carried. Barbara Kennedy, chief executive of North West Anglia Healthcare trust, appealed to the council to use the opportunities of 'a new beginning'.