The British Association of Paediatricians in Audiology (BAPA)

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Previously known as British Association of Community Doctors in Audiology (BACDA)

In the early eighties, the majority of doctors working in Paediatric Audiology in the UK had, at best, minimal training through short courses. A very small minority had had appropriate training through Diploma or Masters courses in Audiological Medicine. It was largely from this group of doctors that the impetus came for setting up the organisation that was to become BACDA.

Concerns centred on the isolation of the community doctor working in Audiology, rarely more than one per district, and the need to encourage communication between doctors working in the speciality. There was also an awareness of the need to provide training, theoretical and practical, that was available and affordable to doctors, and of the necessity for doctors to be encouraged to keep up with advances in a specialty that was developing very rapidly. In addition, it was acknowledged that it as often difficult to make the case for Paediatric Audiology both locally and nationally, and that this was particularly difficult to achieve using the lone voice.

From these original concerns, the first BACDA constitution was developed, including in the aims of the organisation, the provision of opportunities for training, postgraduate professional qualifications, exchange of views, and the organisation of regular national and regional meetings. Much has been achieved over two decades.

BACDA played an important part in correspondence with the universities in encouraging the provision of courses available and appropriate to the membership. Many more members were enabled to acquire professional qualifications as a result.

Policy documents, the first published in 1989 and updated regularly over the years, have provided guidelines in all aspects of our work, invaluable both for audiology staff and for use with those who hold the purse strings.

Regular meetings, the London meeting in January, and the Northern meeting in June, together with regional meetings, have attracted a range of excellent contributors, and covered a wide range of topics and provided opportunities for exchange of views and updates. Audiens, our newsletter, continues to be published on a regular basis with 36 editions circulated over the last twenty years.

BACDA thus became a recognised and respected organisation, and has provided representation on many other professional bodies.

The organisation has provided the opportunity to look at aspects of the work on a national basis such as Age at Identification of Hearing Loss and School Entry Hearing Screening. It has been good to see some of the work in the journals.

Organisations exist to meet needs and must be prepared to change as circumstances change. Recognition of this has resulted in the transition of BACDA to BAPA. The renamed organisation continues to have much to contribute to the world of Paediatric Audiology.

Beyond 2006:

BAPA is now a Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and holds a half-day specialist session at their annual conference in York every Spring. We have worked hard to refine the competencies in Paediatric Audiology that should be achieved by trainees in General Paediatrics and those specialising in Neuro-disability.

Many BAPA members are also members of the British Association of Audiological Physicians (BAAP). Joint working with BAAP includes the development of National Clinical Standards, joint training and audit.  The Chair and vice chair of BAPA meet twice yearly with the President and Vice-President of BAAP (as the Audiovestibular Federation), and BAPA and BAAP issue joint standards and guidelines.
BAPA also continues to work extremely closely with the BSA, and particularly with the Paediatric Audiology Interest Group (PAIG). The PAIG steering committee invariably has one or two representatives who are also BAPA members and who contribute to medical issues in this multidisciplinary group. The two groups work so closely together that in 2010, PAIG and BAPA plan to hold a joint academic meeting with the Otology section of  the Royal Society of Medicine.

Finally, BAPA works closely with the Department of Health by representation on small working groups and committees convened to look at how we can provide an equitable but world class service in Paediatric Audiology nationwide.

With thanks to Hope Forsyth and Sarita Fonseca