The WONCA Europe (World Organization of National Colleges, Academies, and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians) conference is one of the most important meetings of general practitioners from Europe and other countries. This year’s 27th WONCA Europe conference in conjunction with the RCGP (Royal College of General Practitioners) Annual conference 2022 was special. Not only was it held in beautiful London, but after two years of strict lockdowns, it was the first WONCA Europe conference that attendees could attend in person. Thanks to the hybrid format, the conference offered the opportunity to participate even to those who could not fly to London. Despite this possibility, 2,467 general practitioners and family doctors physically came to London. This was 88% of the total number of 2,791 participants.
Although WONCA Europe is primarily aimed at European doctors, this year’s event was attended by experts from 71 countries around the world. Great Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Qatar, Belgium, Greece, Finland, Switzerland, and Germany had the largest representation.
The combination of the annual RCGP conference with the WONCA Europe conference promised to take both events to the next level. The RCGP Annual Conference has over the years become an essential educational event for GPs in the UK, attended by highly regarded speakers and, like the WONCA Europe conference, provides a platform for the transfer of knowledge and research in general practice.
This year’s WONCA Europe conference also included the Vasco da Gama Pre-conference, which took place from June 27 to 28 and is regularly visited by young doctors. The pre-conference focused on the importance of global primary care and its sustainability. The pre-conference included social events, including a cocktail party on the ship and a visit to the nearby London Olympic Park. Around 220 doctors, students, and young professionals took part in the pre-conference. The pre-conference was held physically only at the Resource for London conference centre.
The main four-day conference took place in the modern award-winning ExCeL London convention center in East London. This venue provided enough space for 13 parallel halls and a large exhibition, but we also used the largest auditorium in the UK for the plenary sessions and the opening ceremony. It has operated on a zero waste to landfill basis since 2012, with 71% of waste recycled in 2021 and the remaining 29% used to produce waste-derived fuels. All this corresponded to the main theme of the conference: Innovating family medicine together for a sustainable future.
Participants could look forward to a rich professional and social program. The conference was opened with a ceremony at which several prominent speakers spoke and a musical performance by young talented artists from Great Britain was part of it.
The program included more than 130 expert lectures, 6 plenary sessions, 41 workshops, 10 satellite symposia, and 604 posters. The conference welcomed over 600 speakers from 58 countries.
A social program was prepared for each day of the conference. On the first day, the participants took part in a reception with a toast on the exhibition premises. The second night offered a social dinner in the historic building of Barts Heritage (the oldest hospital in the United Kingdom) and on the third night, an informal party was prepared for the participants in the cocktail bar Slug & Lettuce.
The traditional WONCA run was not to be missed at the conference in London this year either. This year’s patronage under this accompanying program was taken over by the non-profit organization Run Talk Run, and participants could decide whether to participate in a 5 km run or a 3 km walk. Almost a hundred runners gathered at the start.
The conference also included an extensive exhibition with 43 exhibitors, WONCA Village, and a poster section.
We thank WONCA Europe, RCGP, partners and sponsors, speakers and participants, as well as the implementation team of GUARANT International, led by senior project manager Romana Kluková. We believe that this year’s conference will be remembered for several months to come.
However, preparations are already starting for the next 28th WONCA Europe conference, which will be held in Brussels, Belgium, and we once again have the honor of organising this beautiful event.