conference focus :

You win some, you lose some.Who had a good conference? And who wishes it had all been rather different? Tash Shifrin does a round-up

Good conference David Fillingham - 'do not you think he's nice?'- and the Modernisation Agency From breakfast with David to the over-crowded parallel session, the Mod Squad were top of the pops at the Confed conference this year.

That supportive developmental message must have got through - regional officers do not attract a fan following like that. And a good conference for the confed itself - with a full-to-bursting 1,500-strong conference that caught the headlines, and the glittering prize of wrangling with the GPs to look forward to.

Bad conference Nigel Crisp The NHS chief executive, the man 'frustrated' by pre-election purdah, may now wish it had lasted just a little longer - until he was absolutely sure whether selfemployed managers and private consultants could bid for franchises to run failing trusts or not.

The man whose words of wisdom to the press were contradicted by ministers within the hour also impressed delegates with his clear indication of the future of regional officers: 'Over the next period of change we need regional officers to continue what they're doing.'

So they're not being abolished then? 'Not until they are.'

Yeah, thanks Nige.

Tacky abbreviation The ubiquitous LMR wins points for spreading like foot and mouth disease It is a local modernisation review, for the more performance-challenged jargon crunchers among you. But for sheer yuck factor, It is a close-run thing between the three Rs - 'not in an Ofsted way', David Fillingham assures us - for 'redesign, renewal and respect' and SAGE. That is the naff mnemonic for non-execs, reminding them to be stewards, ambassadors and guardians, the confed explains. Apparently, the Department of Health added E for experience - sadly for those who feel that SAG or GAS sum up that all-day board meeting mood rather better.

Worst attempt at a sing-song Benjamin Zander's 'transformational leadership experience' which saw 1,500 respectable confeders well beyond panto age indulging in a bit of audience participation as they stood up as one to sing Beethoven's Ode to Joy in a language few of them could order a beer in.

Ludwig van Beethoven was unavailable for comment.

Most mixed metaphor The exhortation of rival guru Paul Plsekto 'put the holy cows on the table'.

Best freebie Refreshment and relief from the stultifying heatwas the theme for this year. Forget those pens, and - a tip for Roche - those foldy-cube toys are so lastyear.

An honourable mention for the cheese and breadsticks. For the less fortunate, bottled water from the NHS Modernisation Agency was a massive hit.Air next year, perhaps?

Interestingly, the water was sourced from Scotland, where the clear spring waters run, but the remit of the Mod Squad does not.

Kennedy's did well to offer a chance to watch the tennis on telly and nibble strawberries. But the top prize goes to the Lilly stall - free ice-cream! Lib Dem health spokesman Lord Clement-Jones suggested it should be handed out to all NHS staff.

Confed confidential Most unusual take on patient confidentiality from North-umbria Healthcare trust's David McPhee.

'Among the people we deal with is Alan Milburn's mum. She tends to fall over quite a lot, which causes me a few headaches.' Really?