Development of BAPM
Although in 1972, the British Paediatric Association (BPA) publication advised that the time had come to recognise perinatal paediatrics as a sub-speciality in its own right, progress was at first slow. The Neonatal Society, founded in 1959 with a membership from many disciplines, already provided an academic forum for scientific presentations. When approached by the BPA in 1975, this Society declined to take on an advisory role. That year Dr Peter Dunn had undertaken, at the request of the BPA and the DHSS (Department of Health and Social Security), a survey of those paediatricians who were working mainly with newborn babies in maternity hospitals. Twenty doctors in the British Isles, including Ireland, were identified as working 60% or more of their time with the newborn. With the approval of the BPA they were invited to discuss the formation of a new perinatal group. After the preliminary discussion in York in 1976, a formal meeting took place in Bristol on the 26th of November and the British Paediatric Perinatal Group (BPPG) was founded with the primary objective of improving the standard of perinatal care in the British Isles.
The founding members formed themselves into a committee with an Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer. Membership was open to all British and Irish paediatricians and others having a professional interest in the unborn and newborn baby. Affiliation with the BPA, now the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), was established early in 1977 with agreement that the Honorary Secretary of the BPPG should also act as Perinatal Convener to the College. It was agreed too that the two bodies should jointly determine the paediatric representation to the Joint Standing Committee of the BPA and the RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists). The RCOG also agreed to ensure that at least one of their representatives of the Joint Committee was also a member of the BPPG.
By 1980 the work and membership of the BPPG had increased so much that it became necessary to create the Office of Chairman and an Executive Committee representing England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland. In 1981 the name of the group was changed to the British Association for Perinatal Paediatrics and was registered as a charity. At the same time the name of the Committee was changed to Council and the Office of Chairman to President. In 1985, with a marked increase in obstetric membership, it was felt appropriate to change the title once more to the British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM).
In 1991 it was agreed to widen the membership and to replace the annual Council Meeting with an Annual General Meeting open to all members. Over the years the size of the Association has steadily expanded as new neonatal paediatricians have been appointed and as obstetricians and others interested in the perinatal period have joined the Association and contributed to the useful all-day debates held each year at the AGM. Among other disciplines and professional bodies now represented at the AGM are the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives, the Neonatal Nurses Association, the Perinatal Pathology Group, the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Anaesthetists, as well as the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit and the Department of Health.
Undoubtedly the most important achievement of the BAPM was to obtain formal recognition of the new sub-specialty from the Royal Colleges of Physicians and the BPA. This was not easy but after several years of representations, a Specialist Advisory Committee (Paediatrics) Training Programme was agreed in 1982 for those doctors seeking dual accreditation in Paediatrics and Perinatal Paediatrics. BAPM, at the SAC's request, also advised on guidelines for the recognition of hospital training posts suitable for those seeking such accreditation. Since 1997 the RCPCH has assumed responsibility for organising training in paediatric medicine and the BAPM has been invited to nominate Specialty Training Advisers and members for the new College Specialist Advisory Committee in Neonatal Medicine. More than ever the BAPM is closely involved in syllabus-setting and accrediting training posts for the neonatal specialists of the future.