A Brief History of BAGP

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We are grateful to one of our founder members, Dr Alistair Thomson, for his recollection of the inception of the British Association of General Paediatricians.

The late 1990’s

Towards the end of the 90’s, there had been a much-needed expansion in numbers of consultant paediatricians.  However, many of these posts had been appointed as sub-specialists in tertiary centres.

With sub-specialist expansion many tertiary centres were struggling to maintain a general paediatric service to cover their local secondary care responsibilities. Secondary care patients were instead being admitted under tertiary specialists, thus blocking access to tertiary care services for DGH patients.

In addition, DGHs were understaffed at consultant level. For example, my own DGH, with a catchment area population of 250,000, had only acquired a third consultant (me) in 1990 and a fourth in 1996!

The ‘decline’ of General Paediatrics was widely-discussed at tertiary centres and even at College level (many College officers were tertiary specialists) and it was predicted that General Paediatrician posts wouldn’t be needed in future! This overlooked that fact that around 50% of all consultant paediatricians were in District General Hospitals (DGHs) and these were mostly generalists.  It also failed to acknowledge that much valuable research material was available at DGH level but without sufficient consultant opportunity to collect and study it.

Redressing the Balance

A group of General Paediatricians decided to redress the balance.  The RCPCH Academic Board allowed this sub-group of General Paediatricians, which became the BAGP, to host 3 sessions at the 2002 Spring Meeting. 

This attracted 67 abstracts, from which 20 had been selected for their high quality and presented. Additionally, of the 24 abstracts accepted for RCPCH plenary presentation, 4 came from the BAGP – second only to Perinatal submissions.  This established the need for a General Paediatric Group in an emphatic debut.

First Meeting

The first meeting of the BAGP was held on Thursday 18th April 2002 in Central Hall, York University, during the RCPCH Annual Spring Conference.

Present were:

  • Dr Andrew Boon, Consultant General Paediatrician in Reading, as Convenor.
  • Dr Alistair Thomson, Consultant General Paediatrician in Crewe, Acting Treasurer.
  • Approximately 20 General Paediatricians.

The meeting was short and discussion informal.  Dr Boon proposed that a formal body be set-up which would aim to promote interest and research in General Paediatrics. This was agreed and BAGP was therefore in a strong position to expand its activities with RCPCH support. Further RCPCH Annual Meeting sessions were planned. 

A draft constitution was drawn-up. The officers were to include a Secretary.  Prospective members were invited to contact Dr Boon: several had already done so and sent cheques even before a subscription had been fixed and a bank account been opened!  A call for members was planned through the RCPCH Newsletter. 

In discussions, a website was thought necessary. An autumn meeting was mooted and links with primary care, RCGP, RCPs Edinburgh & Glasgow and RSM were proposed.  The next meeting was held at the RCPCH Annual Spring Meeting 2003.

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