The seeds of Wessex Obstetric Anaesthetists (WOA) were sown in the late ’80s when Ric Lawes, an obstetric anaesthetist in Southampton organised an inaugural meeting with colleagues from the Wessex region. There was then a period of inactivity until 1991 when a new committee was elected with Diana Brighouse (Southampton) as Chairman, Kate Davies (Winchester), secretary and Richard Foxell (Dorchester), treasurer. Ten obstetric units were represented- Dorchester, Isle of Wight, Poole, Winchester, Salisbury, Basingstoke, Southampton, Bath, Swindon and Portsmouth.

A constitution was drawn up, with the following aims: –
To promote communication between obstetric anaesthetists in order to provide the highest standard of care of parturients.
To provide educational continuity and consistency throughout the region.
To disseminate information about recent advances.
To encourage regional research.
To encourage communication between anaesthetists, obstetricians and midwives.

Membership was open to all consultants with an interest in obstetric anaesthesia; interested trainees were invited to attend. Initially meetings were held in function rooms of pubs around the New Forest, but with sensitive issues being discussed, a more protected venue was felt necessary and most meetings are now held in the post graduate centre in Salisbury.


The timetable has centred around 3 meetings per year. Currently 2 of these are now afternoon or evening meetings, the time being divided between business issues and presentations of clinical interest. These meetings are open to consultants, non-consultant career grade anaesthetists and senior trainees. The third meeting is the annual scientific meeting held each summer in conjunction with the obstetricians in Wessex.

There is also a course on practical obstetric anaesthesia, which is run twice a year and is aimed at SHOs just starting in obstetric anaesthesia. The organisation of this course is undertaken by 1of the units in the region for approximately 3 years. Responsibility for running the course is then handed on to another unit.

WOA is also concerned with specialist training in obstetric anaesthesia. The chairman represents the views of the group to the Specialist Training Committee.

In 2000, WOA became the first regional obstetric anaesthetic group to host the Obstetric Anaesthetists Association annual scientific meeting.

Current WOA Committee
Dr Sam Wilson
WOA Chair

Consultant at Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust

Dr Jo Meikle
WOA Treasurer
Dr Richard Isaacs
WOA Secretary

Consultant at University Hospital Southampton

Dr Sahra Durnford & Dr Chris Watts
WOA Trainee reps

Consultant at Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust