CSP’s first virtual physiotherapy conference ends on a high note

This year’s two day Physiotherapy UK (vPUK) conference closed with an inspiring lecture about leadership, delegates dancing on stage and a virtual fireworks display.

Delegates dancing at end of vPUK 2020
Delegates dancing on stage at the end of vPUK 2020

The virtual venue hosted seven auditoriums, two poster halls, three networking halls, a vast exhibition space and presentations from 240 speakers.

It also attracted over 1,300 physiotherapy staff from a wide range of fields and all areas of the UK, who were able to network, interact and share thoughts, ideas and research that could help move the profession forward.


Fran Fitch, programme lead for the conference, said the virtual event had been ‘a conference to remember’.

‘It was one of the largest programmes we have ever delivered. There was so much CPD and information available from top leaders in their fields via our poster halls, abstract presentations, symposia, spotlights, networking and keynote sessions.

We really wanted to recreate the full conference experience for our members, and vPUK enabled us to achieve just that, by providing a really unique interactive way to deliver the conference this year.

‘Delegates were able to network, both informally and formally, and could literally 'bump into others' at anytime, anywhere on the campus and have those important spontaneous conversations - along with a few avatar dance moves thrown in!’

Dream with ambition & lead with conviction

Karen Middleton speaking at the end of vPUK 2020
Karen Middleton speaking at the end of vPUK 2020

Speaking at the end of the second day, CSP chief executive Karen Middleton said: ‘This was our first fully virtual conference and it was planned at breakneck speed, as we’d been planning since last year for our usual event to take place in Birmingham, so we had to turn this around very, very quickly.

I want to thank a whole range of people, who have worked long hours, for their commitment to make this whole event a success

CSP staff at vPUK

‘Over the last two days, we’ve had hundreds of speakers and presenters and dozens of CSP staff who’ve really pulled out the stops, by doing things that none of us had ever done before, and really leaning in to make this work.

‘They have been absolutely determined to make sure our profession is not neglected during this difficult time and they were determined to make sure this conference would go ahead somehow.

‘Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making these two days a really great event to be at.

Screenshot of a presentation session from vPUK 2020

‘We don’t know yet what Physiotherapy UK will look like next year, but I can assure you that it will take place in some form.'

Future physio tech and digital advances session at vPUK 2020

Until then, she urged members to ‘Stay safe, look after yourselves and be kind during these difficult times’.

And she wrapped up the conference by referencing the words spoken by US vice-president elect Kamala Harris, in her recent acceptance speech.

‘I want to leave you with these words from Kamala Harris,’ Ms Middleton said.

 You should dream with ambition and you should lead with conviction

'Please remember those words, both this week and beyond!’

Developing as leaders

Phil Glasgow speaking at vPUK 2020
Phil Glasgow speaking at vPUK

Phil Glasgow, the final speaker at the conference, gave an uplifting and inspiring presentation about how physiotherapy staff were well placed to lead with skill and purpose.

‘I fundamentally believe that physiotherapists are ideally positioned for leadership in the current, complex world in which we live,’ he told delegates.

Physios’ greatest assets include not only our knowledge and our clinical aptitude, but also the whole range of transferable skills that go with being a physiotherapist.

‘Communication skills, empathy, collaborative working, the ability to build rapport and influence – these are the things that make great leaders, and that’s why I believe that physios are ideally positioned.’

At the end of this presentation, he added that it has been a ‘huge honour to share the virtual world with so many great friends and colleagues’ and congratulated CSP for enabling this year’s conference to go ahead, via a virtual platform.

A visionary format

Phil Glasgow speaking at VPUK

Commenting on the virtual format of this year’s conference, closing speaker Phil Glasgow, said: ‘A huge congratulations to the CSP for putting such a fantastic event together. It has been so immersive and so varied and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.’

And Gill Rawlinson, CSP assistant director for practice and development, who also spoke at the event, said: ‘I have never delivered a presentation then gone on a speedboat ride, then met with old friends then done the samba on stage at any other conference. Well done team very proud to work at CSP.’

Meanwhile, comments from some of the members that attended the conference included:

‘Well done to everyone involved with making this conference happen. Visionary format delivering content and truly connective networking opportunities. Thank you.’

Who knew it could be this good virtually? Thank you CSP amazing speakers and physios. So much food for thought from this conference.

A networking session at VPUK 2020
A networking session at vPUK

‘In these times, I was not really looking forward to another two days in front of the screen, but this has been so much more than a webinar, this chat is brilliant.’

‘This has been a brilliant conference, with inspirational speakers…feel I have actually been somewhere - much better than just webinars. Thanks to CSP and everyone involved in making this happen.’

‘I can't hide that I have missed to 'usual conference experience' but for the situation we are in... I don’t think this could have been much better.’

Attending the conference from home in between school runs and some Bank Work, I have really gleaned some renewed inspiration.

Manchester arena bomb survivor Martin Hibbert speaking during a session at vPUK
Manchester arena bomb survivor Martin Hibbert speaking during a session at vPUK

‘My four kids have also enjoyed the break times and speeding me round in a boat, making me dance with professionals I don't know, kicking footballs and climbing me up to the top of the lighthouse.

‘These little things made it more inclusive for my family which then enabled me to attend some full lectures with few interruptions! Well done and thanks so much!’

‘It is an amazing format for those who are unable to get away from home overnight for whatever reason, needs or commitments. Thank you for this weekend - it has been a real boost!’

‘A fabulous conference - and very much needed in these times.’

How on earth are we going to top this event next year? Thank you CSP.

Dancing delegates at vPUK 2020

Number of subscribers: 3

Log in to comment and read comments that have been added