A brief history of time - and CoMMA

Fiona Donald, recently appointed as a consultant at Southmead, and I discussed setting up a regional obstetric anaesthetists group in 1999. These were few in number at that time, though we were influenced by the neighbouring Wessex Obstetric Anaesthetists group who were extremely well organised.
We sent a flier to the obstetric anaesthetic consultants in Bristol and Bath, as well as some interested senior trainees, inviting them to a meeting to discuss the formation of a new Bristol & Bath Obstetric Anaesthetists Group at the Highbury Vaults, St. Michael’s Hill, Bristol on 8th September. The majority opinion at the meeting concluded that it was important to extend the boundaries wider, and so an invitation was sent to the area covered by the school of anaesthesia, extending from Gloucester to Yeovil, for the first properly constituted meeting of the group on 26th January 2000. This was organised at the Landsdown Hotel pub in Clifton, which had an upper room of suitable size to accommodate the expected hordes together with projection facilities, and could provide food and beverages. The programme consisted of a presentation on caesarean section analgesia (a consistently popular topic over subsequent years) as well as several case presentations by trainees.

The development of the group was discussed, with agreement to hold 3-4 evening meetings a year, starting in Bristol to allow the easiest travelling from both north and south. The name of the group was finalised here, as the meeting summary is badged ‘Cotswold & Mendip Maternity Anaesthetists’.
Meetings continued at this venue for a while, but moved after a few years to the anaesthetic department at Southmead after some booking clashes with other groups. Ted Rees became the informal ‘treasurer’ of CoMMA, and his magic way with money meant that the practice of charging attendees a small sum for their meal became defunct – usually those who stayed till the end had to stuff their bags and pockets with the leftover comestibles.
There was a collaborative process to develop the group’s logo, resulting in the final ‘virgula with a bump’.
And, as they say in Clichestan, the rest is history.

Mike Kinsella
St Michael’s Hospital