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Prepared by David James

Emeritus Professor of Fetomatermal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham


In the early 1990’s obstetricians were becoming less involved in the management of normal (‘low risk’) pregnancies where the majority, if not all, care was provided by midwives in the community.  In contrast there were many developments in screening, diagnosis and management in problem (‘at risk’) pregnancies that obstetricians had to assimilate into their practice.

This change  of the obstetrician’s role in  pregnancy care led to discussions of the concept of a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) Society among several UK MFM specialists. Then, in 1994, a questionnaire survey was undertaken of all Members and Fellows of the RCOG to explore the support for a new Society which would provide a forum where the above issues of relevance to obstetricians and related health professionals could be discussed.  The survey had an 80% response rate and over 90% of the responders supported the concept. Thus, the British Maternal and Fetal Medicine Society was born.

First meeting

The planning for the inaugural meeting took place via a series of meetings in my office in the Queen’s Medical Centre during 1995 and early 1996.  The first organising committee comprised people whom I knew and whom I could persuade to get involved.  They were Bryan Beattie (Cardiff), John Grant (Belshill), Ian Greer (Glasgow), Mary Pillai and Peter Soothill (Bristol), Steve Robson (Newcastle), Charles Rodeck and Phil Steer (London), David Taylor (Leicester), Steve Walkinshaw (Liverpool) and myself. Martin Whittle (Birmingham) joined the group after the first meeting. He later became the Society's first President.  One of the wisest parts of the planning was to appoint Bell Howe Conferences as the Conference Organiser. Diana Bell in particular was very helpful in guiding us and she was a loyal supporter of the Society in its early days including taking the Minutes at meetings both of the Organising Committee and the Annual General Meeting of the Society itself. 

The first meeting took place at Warwick University on 18-19th April1996.  There were approximately 250 delegates and our first Keynote Speakers were Prof Surla Eik Nes, Dr Neil Marlow, Prof Ingemar Ingemarsson and Prof Baha Sibai. The meeting was a huge success and there was massive support for the Society and the annual meetings to continue.  Positive features included:

Obstetricians were pleased to have their own identity

  • The size of the attendees was such that there could be effective ‘networking’ and all the oral presentations could be attended by all the delegates
  • The four half day sessions covering Fetal Medicine, Maternal Medicine, Labour and Delivery and Postnatal and Pregnancy Outcome meant that there was ‘something for everybody’
  • The deliberate plan to have an approximate 50:50 split between science and clinical material
  • The high quality of the presentations,

Second meeting

With the endorsement of the delegates at the Inaugural meeting, we planned a second meeting for 1997.  The organising Committee made a number of changes on the basis of suggestions from the 1996 delegates.

The second meeting of BMFMS took place on 20th and 21st March 1997, again at Warwick University.  The attendance was even better than 1996 with nearly 300 delegates.  Once more we were able to attract keynote speakers with an international reputation and the second meeting was even more successful with the Society growing its reputation.

The main issues at the AGM were discussions about a Constitution for the Society and the election of Officers. Subsequent to the voting Martin Whittle was elected to be President and Rupert Fawdry was Treasurer. I was elected as the Society’s Secretary. A constitution was developed and annual conferences became the norm.

Society Officers over the years

Martin Whittle 1998 - 2001
Steve Walkinshaw 2002 - 2004
Alan Cameron 2005 - 2008
Steve Robson 2008 - 2011
Mark Kilby 2011 - 2014
Tim Overton 2014 - 2017
Jason Waugh 2017 - 2018
Myles Taylor 2018 - 2021
Katie Morris 2021 - Present
David James 1998 - 2001
Pippa Kyle 2002 - 2003
Margaret Ramsay 2004 - 2010
Tracey Johnston 2010 - 2016
Alec McEwan 2016 - 2019
Emma Ferriman 2019 -Present
Rupert Fawdry 1998 - 2003
Tim Overton 2004 - 2010
Mark Denbow 2010 - 2016
Tracey Johnston 2017 - 2023
Melissa Whitworth  2023 - Present

Subsequent meetings and Conference Organisers

Conference Organisers: Bell Howe Conferences

Year Conference Venue
1996 Warwick
1997 Warwick
1998 Manchester
1999 York
2000 London
2001 Warwick
2002 Cambridge

Conference Organisers: Hampton Medical Conferences

Year Conference Venue
2003 York
2004 Glasgow
2005 Nottingham
2006 Cardiff
2007 Belfast
2008 'Perinatal Medicine 2008' Harrogate – joint meeting with BAPM, NNN and NNS
2009 Liverpool
2010 Newcastle
2011 'Perinatal Medicine 2011' Harrogate – joint meeting with BAPM, NNN and NNS
2012 Glasgow
2013 Dublin
2014 'Perinatal Medicine 2014' Harrogate – joint meeting with BAPM, NNN and NNS
2015 London
2016 Birmingham
2017 Amsterdam
2018 Brighton
2019 Edinburgh
2020 Virtual
2021 Virtual
2022 Birmingham

The initial overall aim of the Society was to provide an annual forum where professionals interested in management of problem pregnancies could meet, ‘network’ and learn about the latest clinical and scientific developments.

However, within 2-3 years of its foundation it became clear that the Society wanted to become more involved nationally whilst continuing to work with the RCOG.  This led to various important developments in the areas of education and training and formal links with the RCOG such as representation on RCOG Committees; joint meeting organisation; the establishment of our own Office at the College.

There have been successful joint annual meetings with other groups and societies. For several years the Macdonald UK Obstetric Medicine Society held its annual meeting the day preceding BMFMS in order to maximise attendance. More recently we have had combined Perinatal Medicine Meetings in 2008, 2011 and 2014 which have been organised in conjunction with the Neonatal Nurse Association, British Association of Perinatal Medicine and the Neonatal Nurses Society. 

In summary, the Society has come a long way and looks set to continue and prosper in the future. The care of high risk pregnancies is in safe hands!