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Editorial Tuesday 14 June 2016: On attending the NHS Confederation Conference in Manchester

Health Policy Insight is nothing if not tirelessly helpful.

With this in mind, readers will benefit from our considerable wealth of experience in attending the NHS Confederation's annual conference, which we have refined into the following etiquette guide for surviving the next few days.

Confed is the Glastonbury for NHS managers, with more deficit one-upsmanship, less trench foot and about the same amount of Dolly Parton.

A note on climate
Manchester is noted for its Mediterranean climate. Sunblock, misting sprays and portable air conditioners are much recommended.

The Mancunian is as a rule a friendly person, but generally rather shy and reserved. Like a foal, they are easily startled. Try to avoid Stone Roses, sudden movements and loud noises.

There are three absolute rules for handling Mancunians: do not expose them to direct sunlight; do not get them wet; and above all, do not feed them after midnight.

Is Simon Stevens a Mancunian?
Not in this lifetime.

The hotel of choice is a vital social signifier for the NHS manager. Promptly publish pictures of your glamorous suite and chauffeur-driven limousine on social networks, with a #ThanksTaxpayers hashtag.

Where would Simon Stevens stay?
A minimalist AirBnB flat, exactly mid-way by foot between the conference hall and the station

After a challenge from Care UK, the traditional 'monopoly conference train up' payload of the great and the good has been dispersed across Wednesday and Thursday trains to prevent anti-competitive behaviour.

NHS Improvement have travelled up in a pair of rickshaws.

Last year's craze for travelling by penny-farthing bicycles led to several 'never' events and a Care Quality Commission investigation (which luckily cleared itself).

Rumours that Tim Kelsey's new abode Telstra Health has sponsored a fleet of Segways could not be denied at the time of going to press.

How would Simon Stevens travel?
Walk or float.

This year's dress code is steampunk meets West Coast seductress. That's for the men, obviously. For women, grey business suits are on trend (ties that bind are optional).

What would Simon Stevens wear?
A deerstalker, an NHS blue cravat, plus fours and the resignation letters of any chief executives planning to breach their control totals.

It is important for NHS managers to maintain their credentials as up-to-date, in-the-moment, bleeding-edge early adopters. Demonstrate this in your language, dropping hip buzzphrases like "groovy, baby".

What would Simon Stevens say?
"The increase in your agency spend over the past three financial years is ..."

A steady stream of eminent male caucasians will chunter along on the main stage to PowerPoint slides (with one mandatory unreadable cartoon), in a charming religious homage to the Hindu God of Water Retention.

(Strangely, these ritual events are considered central to the business of attending the conference by some.)

Diversity issues on the main stage are deemed to be fully covered by the excellent conference chair Anita Anand.

Which session won't Simon Stevens miss?
Jeremy Hunt's.

The exhibition of any industry conference charges companies who want to sell things to the delegates huge sums for the opportunity to be walked past and ignored by those delegates.

You can tell who's doing well out of the NHS by assessing size of stand and calibre of freebie. In recent years, lawyers have been where it's at for freebie action and decent coffee.

Exhibitors are highly dangerous, and can be triggered into 'conversation' mode by eye contact alone. Maintain traditional decorum at all times in the exhibition: steal a pen and move past quickly.

What stall will Simon Stevens visit?
Any offering freebies of chocolate or soft drinks, to impose a 20% sugar tax.

NHS managers have stress-free, easy jobs which involve no pressure. Their preferred method of relaxation generally involves nibbling on mung beans, country dancing and tiddlewinks.

Curiously, however, the NHS Confederation Conference turns into a sea of alcohol from 3 pm in the afternoon. This is the exception that proves the 'no contact with exhibitors' rule above.

The lawyers and property companies generally have the champagne. The good lawyers have Cristal. The bad lawyers have Mezcal.

What would Simon Stevens drink?
Chateau Latour 1961, Domaine de la Romanee Conti Grand Cru Montrachet 1978, water. (In separate glasses, obvs.)