A History of RA-UK

History of RA-UK

The American Society of Regional Anaesthesia (ASRA), whose inaugural annual scientific meeting (ASM) was in 1976, held a European satellite meeting in Heidelberg, Germany in 1980 demonstrating the need and desire for a similar European society. As a result, the European Society of Regional Anaesthesia (ESRA) was formed (also in 1980) by Albert & Francoise Van Steenberge (Belgium), Hans Nolte (Germany), Arno Hollmen (Finland) and Bruce Scott (UK).

Bruce Scott was Chairman of this committee and the one who organised the first ASM in Edinburgh in 1982. Initially, ESRA adopted a zonal structure for the different geographical areas with each chairman making up the main society board. One of the first zones was in the British Isles, and called ESRA Great Britain & Ireland (GB&I) to denote its non-political basis. A planning meeting was held, in Estepona, Spain in 1983, as a precursor to the foundation of ESRA(GB&I). Bruce Scott also chaired this meeting and was the group’s first President (from 1983-1988).

Zonal ASMs were also developed by ESRA(GB&I), and these started in 1984.

1984 Inaugural ASM

Droitwich 1985 ASM – Oldham The Astra Lecture (AL) (sponsored by Astra) was created at the 1986 ASM as the key note speech.

1986 ASM – Slough AL: Dr Bruce Scott, Edinburgh, UK

1987 ASM – Droitwich AL: Dr Edward Armitage, Brighton, UK

1988 ASM – Bolton AL: Unknown Dr Tony Wildsmith (Edinburgh) elected President at the Bolton ASM (1988-1992).

1989 ASM – Slough AL: Unknown

1990 ASM – Droitwich AL: Dr Bruce Scott, Edinburgh, UK

1991 ASM – Bolton AL: Prof Geoff Tucker, Sheffield, UK

1992 ASM – Edinburgh AL: Prof Gary Strichartz, Boston, USA Dr Tony Rubin (London) elected President at the Edinburgh ASM (1992 - 1996).

1993 ASM – Bristol AL: Dr Cosmo Di Fazio, Charlottesville, USA

1994 ASM – Droitwich AL: Dr Len Carrie, Oxford, UK

1995 ASM – Belfast AL: Prof Henrik Kehlet, Copenhagen, Denmark

1996 ASM – Norwich AL: Dr Sheru Nath, Umea, Sweden Dr Barrie Fischer (Redditch) elected President at the Norwich ASM (1996 - 2004).

1997 – No meeting (the main ESRA ASM took place in London this year)

1998 ASM – Chester AL: Prof Tony Wildsmith, Dundee, UK

In 1999, the ’Bruce Scott lecture’ (BSL) replaced the AL, named in honour of Dr Bruce Scott, who had an international reputation for his work in epidural anaesthesia and, as mentioned above, was one of the founding fathers of ESRA. He unfortunately died from a cerebral haemorrhage in 1998, aged 72. An obituary can be found here: Wildsmith JAW. Obituary: Donald Bruce Scott MD FRCA FRCPEd 1925-1998. Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine 1999; 24: 195-6.

1999 ASM – Penrith BSL: Transient Neurological Symptoms – Neurotoxicity or ‘Potato Picker’s Back’? Dr Dag Selander, Gothenburg, Sweden  

2000 ASM – Dundee BSL: Dr Nick Scott, Clydebank, Scotland

2001 ASM – Cambridge BSL: "The future role of regional anaesthesia in fast-track surgery" Prof Henrik Kehlet, Copenhagen, Denmark

2002 ASM – Middlesbrough BSL: "Following on the inspiring work of Bruce Scott" Dr Tony Rubin, London, UK

2003 ASM – Poole BSL: “On the Shoulders of Giants” Dr Edmond Charlton, Newcastle, UK

2004 ASM – Droitwich BSL: “Is this Cockfosters?”, Prof Tony Wildsmith, Dundee, UK Dr Nick Denny (King’s Lynn) elected President at the Droitwich ASM (2004 - 2006).

2005 ASM – Glasgow BSL: “A Road less Well Travelled” Dr Barrie Fischer, Redditch, UK

2006 ASM – Cork BSL: "The History of Regional Anaesthesia" Dr William Harrop-Griffiths, London, UK Dr Nick Scott (Clydebank) elected President at the Cork ASM (2006 - 2009).

2007 ASM – Exeter BSL: “Paravertebral blocks”, Prof Jonathan Richardson, Bradford, UK

2008 ASM – London BSL: "Ultrasound Guided Regional Anaesthesia – Is it here to stay?" Dr Vincent Chan, Toronto, Canada The Unsung Hero Award (sponsored by BBraun) was developed in 2009 in recognition of the hard work and dedication of anaesthetists in the field of regional anaesthesia, and which often goes unnoticed.

2009 ASM – Liverpool BSL: “Interactive Anatomy DVD”, Dr Alain Delbos, Toulouse, France Unsung Hero Award: Dr Fred Sage, East Surrey Dr Barry Nicholls (Taunton) elected President at the Liverpool ASM (2009-2012).

2010 ASM – Belfast BSL: “Ultrasound guided regional anaesthesia – what have we learnt during the last 15 years”, Dr Peter Marhofer, Vienna, Austria Unsung Hero Award: Dr John Barcroft, Stanmore From ESRA’s creation until 2010 there was a major expansion of the society with further introduction of zonal committees leading to a subsequent loss of cohesion and efficiency. At the ESRA ASM in Porto, Portugal in 2010, new bylaws were approved, introducing a Council, formed by elected representatives from the national societies, which replaced zonal committees. At that same time, ESRA(GB&I) (or Regional Anaesthesia of Great Britain & Ireland (RAGBI) which was used as the website name) split to form RA-UK and The Irish Society of Regional Anaesthesia (ISRA). Please see http://www.ra-ireland.ie for more information on ISRA. The RA-UK constitution was formally agreed at the Belfast ASM.

2011 ASM – Cambridge BSL: “Lipid resuscitation: Adventures in medical innovation”, Prof Guy Weinberg, Chicago, USA Unsung Hero Award: Dr Martin Herrick, Cambridge

2012 ASM – Newcastle BSL: “How to merge regional anaesthesia with modern surgical protocols”, Prof Franco Carli, Montreal, Canada Unsung Hero Award: Dr David Conn, Exeter Dr Sean Tighe (Chester) elected President at the Newcastle ASM (2012-2015).

2013 – No Meeting (ESRA ASM took place in Glasgow this year)

2014 ASM – Nottingham BSL: “Does regional analgesia improve outcome in trauma?”, Dr Jeff Gadsden, North Carolina, USA Unsung Hero Award: Dr Stef Oosthuysen, Norwich

2015 ASM – Oxford BSL: “Is intraneural injection so bad and are we just missing the point?”, Prof Rob Raw, Iowa, USA Unsung Hero Award: Dr Susanne Krone, East Grinstead Dr Morné Wolmarans (Norwich) elected President at the Oxford ASM (2015-2018).

2016 ASM – Hull BSL: “Lessons from the past, challenges of the present and the future is intraneural injections”, Prof Paul Bigeleisen, Maryland, USA Unsung Hero Award: Dr Ian Williams, Hull

2017 ASM – Brighton BSL: “From humble beginnings to the road ahead”, Prof Admir Hadzic, Genk, Belgium Unsung Hero Award: Dr Anthony Allan, Swindon

2018 ASM – Swansea BSL: “From anatomy to patient-centred outcomes - meaningful participation from all is required”, Dr Michael Barrington, Melbourne, Australia Unsung Hero Award: Dr Jimmy Myo, Swansea Dr Amit Pawa (London) elected President at the Swansea ASM (2018-present).

2019 ASM - Belfast: "Opportunities and challenges in the renaissance of Regional Anaesthesia", Dr Ki Jinn Chin, Toronto, Canada Unsung Hero: Anand Sardesai, Cambridge. 

2020 No ASM due to global pandemic.

2021 Virtual ASM - Sheffield: "Addressing the challenges and securing the future of Regional Anaesthesia", Dr Ed Mariano, Stanford, USA Unsung Hero Baskar Manickam, County Durham and Darlington. This ASM was, by circumstance, RA-UKs first attempt at a virtual conference. The UK lecturers broadcast from a studio in Sheffield, with the international lecturers videoconferencing in. A huge success, it brought in new membership international, and was the most highly attended confernece to date.

2022 ASM - Edinburgh, held jointly with ISURA: BSL Colin McCartney.

I would like to thank the following people for helping me piece together the history of RA-UK for this timeline: Tony Wildsmith, Barrie Fischer, Chandra Kumar, John McClure, Martin Herrick, Nick Scott, Barry Nicholls, Matt Oldman and Sean Tighe. I would also like to make reference to the following publication, which was invaluable in discovering the beginnings of ESRA: Van Zundert A, Wildsmith JAW. The European Society of Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine (1982-2012): Thirty years strong. Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine 2013; 38: 436-41.


Dr Jim Parry Trainee Representative RA-UK July 2018


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