Dr Felicity Plaat

Honorary Secretary of the Obstetric Anaesthetists’ Association and Consultant Anaesthetist, Queen Charlotte’s Hospital London

Q: What does your role in the OAA involve?

A: Apart from organising the thrice yearly Committee meetings and the AGM, I respond to queries from OAA members and others about obstetric anaesthetic matters. Quite often this involves finding the expert to answer the question! I represent the OAA at meetings and with the president we ensure that we scrutinise any publications/announcements etc that may impact obstetric anaesthesia and respond accordingly.

Q: In what way is the OAA linked with other organizations in ensuring good quality of care in obstetrics?

A: One of our ongoing challenges is to improve the visibility of obstetric anaesthesia and promote safe obstetric anaesthesia. The OAA links with many other medical institutions, Royal Colleges and NICE producing guidelines for services and care.

Q: What meetings is the OAA involved with?

A: The OAA is approved by the Royal College of Anaesthetists as a provider of Continuing Education and Professional Development (CPD) and is the only organisation regularly running symposia and educational meetings specifically about obstetric anaesthesia and with attendances of between 400 and 500 delegates. The majority of the annual meetings are held in the U.K. and attract both national and international speakers and delegates as well as a wide range of exhibitors. In addition, an intensive three-day course and a single day refresher course are held each year. These courses attract not only specialists but also those anaesthetists with a more general interest who need to provide labour ward cover and wish to remain updated on new advances in obstetric anaesthesia. The OAA has also been involved in a number of joint international meetings with other societies. These include a joint OAA/CARO (Club des Anesthésistes-Réanimateurs en Obstétrique) meeting in Versailles in April 2004. More recently in 2006, the OAA collaborated with the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology (SOAP), our North American colleagues, to hold an inaugural joint meeting in Dublin. This meeting attracted delegates and expert speakers from the U.S.A., U.K and Europe. The next overseas meeting with which the OAA is involved is in Cape Town on 2nd March 2008, before the World Congress of Anaesthesiologists, when the OAA will hold a refresher day. This will feature speakers from the Congress and will hopefully attract delegates from South Africa and the surrounding countries.

Q: What other activities is the OAA involved in?

A: The OAA has improved its links on an international basis and has been instrumental in teaching obstetric analgesia across the world. The 2007 refresher course which was held in Serbia, attracted over 300 delegates not only from the home town of Sremska Mitrovica, but also from Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia The OAA also participates and contributes funds to the Kybele foundation which is a non-profit making humanitarian organisation. The goal of the Kybele foundation is to improve childbirth conditions worldwide, through the creation of medical education partnerships. Following the success of the first trip to Turkey in 2004, programs in several other countries have now been established including Croatia in 2005, and Ghana in 2006. Return visits are now being planned to these countries, with future trips to Japan, Egypt and Romania. Previous trips have targeted small countries and have resulted in a nationwide impact on practice. Furthermore, the OAA provides grants for five people from around the world to come to the three-day course each year. This allows anaesthetists to attend who would otherwise be unable to do so. The grant covers travel, accommodation and registration

Q: How does the OAA provide information for mothers?

A: The OAA is committed to informing mothers and their partners about the benefits and risks of anaesthesia and pain-relief in childbirth. This information is available in leaflet format as well as on the OAA website as free downloads in English and a number of other languages.

Q: How is the OAA involved in maintaining new advances in obstetric anaesthesia?

A: As part of its role in training and education, the OAA supports its members in audit and research. It not only provides a number of small research grants but also offers research fellowships to those wishing to pursue an interest in obstetric anaesthesia. NOAD (National Obstetric Anaesthetic Database) is a database which has been established by the OAA. It aims to pool all the obstetric data collected in the U.K. to provide a useful resource for information and teaching.

The Obstetric Anaesthetists’ Association (OAA) was formed in 1969 to promote the highest standards of anaesthetic practice in the care of mother and baby and has an international membership of over 2000.

The OAA provides both education and training for anaesthetists and other practitioners in the UK and overseas. It also is a resource for women seeking information about pain relief in labour and anaesthesia for Caesarean section. Within the OAA, there are a number of sub-committees and working parties which aim to achieve these goals.

Dr Plaat’s specialist interests include high dependency care and resuscitation in obstetrics, medicolegal issues in obstetric anaesthesia and high risk obstetrics. She co-chaired the joint working group with the AAGBI, which produced guidelines for the provision of obstetric anaesthetic services. She is a member of the National Obstetric Anaesthesia Database group, the UK Obstetric Surveillance System Steering group and is on the editorial board of the British Journal of Anaesthesia’s ‘Continuing Education in Anaesthesia, Critical Care & Pain’ (CEACCP) journal. She is also an external advisor to some NICE guideline development groups and is on the medical advisory boards of the charity Baby Lifeline and the Swinden Telemedicine Trust.

For more information contact +44 (0)20 8741 1311 or log on to www.oaa-anaes.ac.uk