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Hello reader and welcome to the UKAPP’s first official blog post! The UKAPP have been wanting to provide our members and the whole community with a monthly blog to better keep you in touch with what we actually do conference to conference. What good fortune then for our first month of blogging to coincide with the first ever “Safer Together” conference.
A little bit of background on the conference and our involvement – Public Health Wales passed new legislation in 2017 to introduce a new licence in development called a“Special Procedures” license designed to cover piercing, tattooing and some cosmetic services where practitioners come into contact with blood and needles for example micro-blading. Under this new scheme by 2020 individual practitioners of all experience levels will be required to sit a day course covering fundamental principles of infection control and work specific first aid. At this time there is really no test of competence in place to ensure a practitioner has even a very basic knowledge of cross contamination or infection control and that can pose a serious public health risk. There is also no system in place to prevent practitioners who have previously been shut down for health code violations from simply re-opening down the street with a different employees name on the license, as no individual license is required.
So in a nutshell the two key things this legislation will do is:
1. Provide a simple, essential, baseline of information all practitioners should have access to and- we cannot stress this enough – it is NOT a suggested replacement of in house training. It will not cover any practical information regarding tattoo application or piercing procedure. It focuses on basic infection prevention and safe work practice controls only.
2. It will give the Welsh government more powers to immediately halt work and prosecute individuals performing unlicensed or illegal tattooing and prevent persons who have previously been found guilty of health violations from automatically being able to work in another premises.
The UKAPP is working closely with the Welsh government to make sure that the course in development contains material that is relevant to our industry, so if you read no further, please be assured that the Welsh government is not attempting to blindly impose it’s will or give us extra hoops to jump through. The purpose of the Safer Together conference was the first of many events where they wish to work directly with the community to develop a course that is:
1. Affordable, with a transparent and justifiable cost.
2. Palatable to practitioners of all literacy levels and inclusive to practitioners with learning differences.
3. Less red tape, with one course valid across all 22 Welsh constituencies for 3 years (guest licenses also available)
So, how did the conference go down on the day? Very well actually!
If I sound a little surprised when I say that it’s only because I honestly had no idea what to expect. I had met Dr. Sarah Jones of the Health Policy Protection and Legislation Branch before at the UKAPP conference and had no doubt that this was a project of some significance to her but as this event is rather unusual in format, with a blend of Health Officers, Government Officials, Doctors, Tattooer and Piercers, I don’t think any of us knew exactly what to expect. What we actually got was a fantastic reception from the Radisson Blu Cardiff which was a lovely surprise. Hot and cold drinks, biscuits and pastries where available for all attendees and were restocked all through the day with soy milk being readily available at all times.A freshly prepared lunch buffet was laid on that seemed to cater to many dietary requirements and we had full access to the bar dining area which was a lovely breathing space so we weren’t at all confined to the function suite like cattle and you could breeze in and out quite freely for a coffee.The function suite itself was ballroom size (sold out to capacity it appeared) seating was available in round wedding style tables facing the stage. All equipped with table water, pads and pens. There were projector screens at the front and back of the room with an additional two flat screen TV’s in the middle to create an easily followed presentation regardless of seating position. All speakers had access to a microphone so all where audible and there were no significant technical issues.These elements might not seem important but I think it’s relevant to establish that for the ticket price (£30 early bird, £80 last minute) we were very much taken care of and the presentations of the day included 8 speakers, some of whom spoke more than once, who discussed a wide range of subjects from a modern history of tattooing to skin cancer awareness to a dermatologist’s look at infection. Another pleasant surprise was that attendance certificates where also provided to all attendees.
The UKAPP was approached by city council members from England interested in hosting similar events and we were also approached by doctors regarding our FGM leaflets so I definitely think attending these events increases our reach as an educational organisation into sectors we haven’t previously had an “in” to. One thing I did notice was that there were very few people in attendance that I knew already, online or in real life. For me that’s a really, really good thing because what kills a conference in my opinion is a room full of people who all know each other, who all agree already, nodding at each other. While there was a lot of positive feedback real criticisms where also raised and different pockets of the community were represented.
So you’ll be pleased to hear there aren’t a lot of negative things I have to say about the conference. If I could make one criticism it would be that there wasn’t really a clear narrative about what’s going to happen now going forward. With a deadline of 2020 it would be good to see some sort of timeline – however the purpose of this conference was to get feedback from the community so I do appreciate that you can’t go forward until that feedback is take into consideration.I also think that some of the speakers slots could have been arranged in a slightly different order to give the day a better structure but that’s hindsight, organising this event for the first time it would be impossible to know exactly how each presentation would land or even what the audience demographics would be.
Pretty much all speakers where incredibly receptive to intense Q&A and showed a willingness to address community concerns. Sample material of potential future testing was available to attendees to provide feedback on which really puts attendees right in the centre of the conversation. Something new that I learned was that this new legislation also gives the local authority to power to refuse a license to individuals who have been convicted of a limited number of relevant crimes such as sexual assault, which provides a welcome protection for vulnerable customers. Another point of significance to the piercing community was that during Dr. Matt Lodder’s talk a photograph of the late Fakir Musafar was shown, as well as Shannon Larratt and Mr. Sebastian. These may be images we’ve seen before and for some people reading this, these people will have been in your life. We should as a community take a moment to appreciate the fact that these images where displayed and discussed at a conference attended by and paid for exclusively by the Welsh Government, so that’s really, really cool and it recognises their enduring achievements.