Meet the Speakers

Meet the Speakers

#BACCNConf2024 Keynote Speakers

We are excited to present this year's renowned Keynote speakers who will be joining us from across the world to share their stories and experiences.


  1. Professor Aisha Holloway
  2. David Wightwick
  3. Sarah DiGregorio
  4. Carli Whittaker
  5. Dr Henrietta Hughes OBE

Professor Aisha Holloway

Professor of Nursing Studies, Co-founder & Co-Director of Edinburgh Global Nursing Initiative

Professor Aisha Holloway, Chair of Nursing Studies, provides strategic leadership to support the propagating and delivery of the School and College academic, research within the Subject Area. Leading learning, teaching and research activity at all levels in the disciplines relevant to Nursing Studies including internal- and external-facing dimensions, and including local, national and international contexts. Directly responsible for the management, leadership and effective administration of activities and resources of the Edinburgh Global Nursing Intiative and research programme contributing to the development and implementation of the School and University strategic plan.

Aisha is the Co-founder and Co-Director of the Edinburgh Global Nursing Intiative (EGNI) and holds a number of Advisory and Board roles within the UK and Internationally.  

Her overarching research programme has two distinct elements: 1) a global public health and alcohol related harm and 2) nursing workforce with a strong professional health policy and political nurse leadership focus. The main aims of both programme are to reduce the risks and harms of alcohol in  society, influencing and shaping alcohol policy alongside alongside, development of an evidence base focused on global political nurse leadership. Programme of research funding by MRC-PHIND, NIHR-PH, CSO, ESRC, NIHR-GCRF and Alcohol Change UK as well as others.

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David Wightwick

CEO of the humanitarian medical NGO, UK-Med

David Wightwick CMG is the CEO of the humanitarian medical NGO, UK-Med, which he first joined in 2018.

Beginning his career as an aid worker in Kosovo with International Medical Corps, he has led and managed humanitarian responses to complex crises for Save the Children, the World Health Organization, Merlin, and GOAL. Always leading from the front, David has spent the majority of the first six months of the year in Gaza as UK-Med Team Lead, overseeing the construction of two field hospitals, surgical support for Gaza’s hospitals, and coordinating the expansion of UK-Med’s humanitarian response, which has so far treated more than 50,000 patients.  

Making a difference: delivering healthcare in a conflict / disaster zone

Conflict zones tend to create extremely vulnerable settings, particularly for healthcare and medicine. Conflict in the 21st century increasingly focuses on the purposeful destruction and destabilisation of civil society, making non-combatants a main target. This has a tremendous impact on healthcare provision and access to healthcare.  One of the key problems that humanitarian emergencies pose is the destruction of health infrastructure, coupled with a lack of healthcare workers (HCWs) and the potential for increased physical danger to HCWs, as well as limited access to essential medicines. Humanitarian emergencies can directly cause both physical and mental injury, such as blast injuries, injuries linked to debris or inadequate shelter, gunshot wounds and post-traumatic stress disorder not to mention the risk to maternal, women and child health provision, and the continuity of both public and chronic health services. 

The WHO reports that: "nearly a quarter of the global population –  currently live in settings affected by conflict, displacement and natural disasters. Combined with weak national health systems, these settings make it difficult to deliver basic health services where they are most needed and would make the biggest difference". Health services in conflict zones are under attack. Not only do services become almost impossible to access during conflict, but they are quite literally under attack. Healthcare centres are targeted by airstrikes and subjected to looting and violence that destroys health infrastructure. This prevents access to urgently needed surgical supplies, creates shortages of medicines and healthcare professionals, places a strain on financial resources, and leaves patients and professionals in jeopardy. 

UK-Med is a frontline humanitarian medical NGO. Born of the NHS, they have been working for over 30 years towards a world where everyone has the healthcare they need when crises or disasters hit. They have hundreds of NHS medics who are rigorously trained for emergencies. Along with a global network of health professionals, they are on-call to get to disaster zones at 24 hours’ notice and save lives. With crises becoming more frequent and severe, they help communities prepare for future emergencies and make sure that what they learn is shared, so people across the world can get the best care.

In 2022 David Wightwick  (UK-Med Chief Executive) was recognised in the King’s New Year Honours List. UK-Med stated: "David was recognised for his unwavering belief in the work he does. A strong humanitarian advocate, his lobbying has meant several humanitarian responses have happened solely because of his tenacity and commitment. Always leading from the front, he has shown exceptional bravery. In Ukraine in 2022, he was one of the first people to cross into the country and access hostile areas. The direct impact of this was to show other organisations, who had not planned to enter the country, that it was possible to go in, leading to large-scale lifesaving emergency medical aid getting to people quicker.

In Syria in 2012, while working for Save the Children he lobbied hard to respond to the humanitarian crisis at a time the organisation was not willing to enter the country which was devastated by violence and atrocities. At the time there was widespread paralysis across the sector on what to do and how to deliver aid to Syria. David entered Syria alone at great personal risk and from this, he and the team were able to build a huge cross-border set-up from Turkey into Syria to deliver lifesaving humanitarian aid. A strong humanitarian advocate, and this mission would not have happened without his bravery and leadership.

David has delivered humanitarian aid and has been involved in major disasters in a humanitarian capacity since 1997 including the Civil War in Liberia, West Africa Ebola Outbreak, War in Yemen, South Asia Tsunami, Covid-19 Pandemic and War in Ukraine. From war to genocide, earthquakes to tsunamis, epidemics and refuges crises, David has played a key leadership role and demonstrated bravery, leadership and humanitarianism beyond the requirements of his role.

Under David’s leadership, UK-Med was one of the first NGOs to enter Ukraine on 2 March 2022 and gain access to eastern regions where conflict and hostilities are most intense. Leading from the front and on the ground, he has led rapid medical assessment teams across towns and cities in Ukraine to understand the immediate and growing humanitarian health needs.

UK-Med has rapidly scaled up its activities to provide mobile health clinics to get primary health care to people who have fled their homes; a surgical field hospital specialising in treating war wounds and limb reconstruction; mass casualty and chemical biological radiological nuclear training in response to urgent requests from hospitals to respond and prepare for imminent attack; first-aid training for civilians who are often the first on the scene following an attack; and medical supplies and equipment to support the urgent gaps in the system". 

BACCN are very honoured that David will be joining us in Aberdeen to share his experiences of not just how UK-Med delivers healthcare services in extreme circumstances but also the vital importance of supporting their healthcare practitioners both pre- and post-deployment. 

We are also happy to announce that UK-Med is our selected charity for #BACCNConf2024. We will be donating £2 per delegate attending the conference in support of the charity. 

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Sarah DiGregorio

Sarah DiGregorio is the critically acclaimed author of Early: An Intimate History of Premature Birth and What It Teaches Us About Being Human and Taking Care: The Story of Nursing and its Power to Change Our World. She is a journalist who has written on health care and other topics for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, Insider, and Jezebel. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her daughter and husband. For more information please visit her website.

Sarah will join Aisha Holloway in conversation from her home in the US, to discuss her book Taking Care and how a non-nurse was able to so effectively capture the essence of nursing. 


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Carli Whittaker

Director of Clinical Skills (Associate Professor) in the School of Health Sciences (SHS) at University of Nottingham

Carli is the Director of Clinical Skills (Associate Professor) in the School of Health Sciences (SHS) at University of Nottingham with clinical role as a Sister on Paediatric Critical Care (PCC) at Nottingham Childrens Hospital (NCH).  

Carli is the President of the Paediatric Critical Care Society (PCCS), the first nurse and female to hold the role within the Society, PCCS is a professional, multi-disciplinary, membership organisation representing the interests of those delivering paediatric critical care in the UK (United Kingdom) for the benefit of Children and Young People and their families.  

Carli’s interest predominantly focuses in Paediatric Critical Care with her PhD in the exploration of children’s nurses and the challenges faced. However, Carli is also interested in the clinical skills and simulation delivering equivalent competence in nursing curriculums.  

Carli is passionate about teaching and learning and extensive knowledge and skills in delivering professional education at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. She works in partnership with the NHS, private and independent sector, and professional, statutory and regulatory bodies. 

All Critical Care Departments strive to ensure that the right patient receives the right care in the right place at the right time, making the best use of available resources. However, at times the demand for Level 3 paediatric critical care outstrips capacity. All acute care providers are expected to resuscitate and stabilise children until retrieval with most young people over the age of 16 expected to be cared for within adult critical care services. During times of pressure on Level 3 PICU beds there is a national agreements to look after under 16 years old in AICU. Guidance for when paediatric critical care resources are constrained can be found in: "A Framework for regional decision making" (PCCS, 2021).  Adult capacity is frequently limited and under pressure within its normal workload. There is an acknowledgement that staff caring for CYP under 16 years in AICU facilitates are often doing so out of their normal scope of practice. However , in exceptional circumstances when PICU level 3 capacity is insufficient, alternative interventions need to be considered. 

The coronavirus pandemic created numerous healthcare challenges and required an unprecedented deployment of health professionals. Healthcare organizations and staff had to restructure and search for new ways of working on an almost daily basis in order to deal with the rapidly increasing number of patients with complex care needs against the background of shortages in both staff and equipment. Many paediatric units / hospitals wanted to participate in the collective effort and support the ward most affected by the influx of patient patients. Many pediatric nurses were able to play a key role in the treatment of adults with COVID-19 by volunteering to work in critical care units. Resilience, flexibility, and creativity became the watchwords for frontline health workers, whose ability to adapt was a major factor in ensuring the safety of the protocols put in place and the continuity of patient care. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic most mutual aid situations were likely to have been AICU supporting PICU where escalating demand and or resources (which may include staff, equipment, services or supplies) were required. Post COVID we are in a space where mutual aid is likely to be more of a two-way process to ensure safe provision across a system of critical care, irrespective of whether this is for COVID-19, emergencies or elective patients requiring adult and or paediatric critical care. 

Complex paediatric health conditions are increasingly associated with survival into adulthood resulting in more youth with complex care needs. This has led to increasing numbers of children with life-limiting conditions transitioning to adult healthcare survives and there are concerns that transition may lead to reduction in care quality and increases in emergency and critical care admissions. The age of transfer to adult services is often flexible, depending on the young person’s circumstances and their primary specialty. A proportion of this population will require care and input from adult critical care services (ICS, 2022). 

The BACCN have invited Carli Whitaker the current president of the Paediatric Critical Care Society to #BACCNConf2024 to discuss and explore how critical care nurses can collaborate in this relative new space of mutual aid and or supporting this particular group of patients. Carli is the first Critical Care Nurse to hold the position of President and we are very fortunate to have her sharing her knowledge and experience with us in Aberdeen. 

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Dr Henrietta Hughes OBE

Patient Safety Commissioner

Dr Henrietta Hughes OBE started in September 2022 as the first Patient Safety Commissioner, an independent role recommended by the report First Do No Harm.

Acting as an independent champion for patients Henrietta leads a drive to improve the safety of medicines and medical devices by ensuring that patient voices are at the heart of the design and delivery of healthcare in England.

A practising GP and a member of the Health Honours Committee and the guiding group of the Women’s Health and Care Leaders Network, Henrietta was previously the National Guardian for the NHS and a Medical Director at NHS England. Henrietta has held executive and non-executive roles in the NHS and is Chair of Childhood First, a children’s charity.

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