Latest updates | Association of Anaesthetists

Latest updates

What we’ve been up to

04 October 2022


Continuing with the theme of reconnection, in the last three months we’ve been taking part in not one, but two Association conferences: Trainee Conference in Bristol in July, and Annual Congress in Belfast in September. The centre’s Heritage Manager, together with Association Diversity Task Group member Dr Tei Sheraton, EDI Officer on the Council of the Anaesthesia Section of the Royal Society of Medicine, Dr Aayushi Gupta, and Dr Wim Blanke, President of the Anaesthesia Section of the Royal Society led a workshop to discuss why diversity matters for healthcare and patient care.

Questions posed to the group included, how we might improve the level of diversity in leadership positions and the barriers preventing diverse talent from applying for these roles, to practical steps to diversify inspirational role models and how we might measure success.

Some of the themes emerging from the discussions were:

  • Differential attainment at points such as recruitment into the specialty and at examination
  • Opportunities for trust grade doctor
  • Managing the terminology to create an inclusive and welcoming environment
  • Early introduction of EDI into curriculums at university and perhaps school

The workshop conveners are continuing to work together to move the discussions forward into practical actions.

Both conferences provided a wonderful opportunity for us to engage with our members in a face-to-face setting for the first time in over two years. They also allowed us to showcase a small part of the Heritage Centre’s collection. Attendees were able to see some of the very first objects the museum acquired in the 1950s. These items were donated by A. Charles King, a manufacturer of anaesthetic equipment who amassed a large collection of historical objects. Along with some of our earliest acquisitions, a few of our most recent ones, acquired during the course of our contemporary collecting programme during the COVID-19 pandemic, were on display too.



Social media

Leading up to Annual Congress, the Heritage team took over the Association’s Instagram account to tell their followers a bit more about the Heritage Centre. You can find the stories in their Highlights! We had some practice earlier in the summer, when our friends at the Royal College of Nursing Libraries kindly let us take over their Twitter account. We had a lot of fun connecting with a new audience and collaborating with other teams. Look out for more take-overs in the future!


As member of the Families in Museums Network, the Heritage Centre was invited to participate in one of the fabulous Family Days at Westminster Abbey. In the beautiful surroundings of the Abbey’s College Garden, 66 young people learnt all about the breath and what anaesthetists do from the team and two of our fantastic volunteers. This was the first time we took part in the Abbey’s Family Days and we already can’t wait for next year!

In early September, we finally got the chance to participate in the Open House Festival after water damage to the building and COVID-19 had prevented us from doing so the previous three years. Not only is 21 Portland Place a significant architectural gem designed by the prestigious Adam brothers in the 1770s, it is also situated within London’s traditional ‘medical district.’ We were delighted to welcome so many keen visitors who were able to book free house tours, learning more about the building’s history and architecture, ora walking tour exploring the anaesthetic history of our neighbourhood, as well families to make fire-breathing dragons in our drop-in craft session.



This summer we were successful in securing an AIM Collections Care and Conservation grant, which will enable us to review the Heritage Centre’s film collection. The Heritage Assistant received training from a film conservator and has been working on condition checking and cataloguing the film reels. The accumulated documentation will inform which items will be formally added to the collection, sent for digitisation, re-housed or disposed of if the film reel is in such a poor condition that it makes it unusable. The digitised content will then be made accessible, for example to support exhibitions or talks.


Looking ahead to the next three months

  • We’re excited to host a range of events, from talks to art workshops. Have a look at what events are coming up here.
  • Look out for the heritage edition of Anaesthesia News coming out in December.
  • We’re in the process of developing our next temporary exhibition, opening next year. So here’s your reminder that if you have a chance, come along to 21 Portland Place to view our current exhibition celebrating the Association of Anaesthetists’ 90-year history.
  • Work on the film collection will continue, and an audit of our drugs collection will be carried out with the help of a new volunteer, a UCL Museum Studies student.
  • The Heritage Manager will speak about the Lost in the Ether project at the Association for Heritage Interpretation’s Conference on 12 October 2022. 


  • Books, including a book containing A Popular Essay on Anaesthetic Agents for Producing Painless Operations by William Mortimer, Account of a New Anaesthetic Agent, as a Substitute for Sulphuric Ether in Surgery and Midwifery and Answer to the Religious Objections advanced against the Employment of Anaesthetic Agents in Midwifery and Surgery by James Young Simpson, published in 1847.
  • Hardback book, 'Safety as we watch: anaesthesia in Ireland 1847-1998', written by Declan Warde, Joseph Tracey and John Cahill, published 2022
  • Association 90th anniversary branded merchandise.

16 August 2022

In the past three months, we’ve cherished opportunities to reconnect with people. Group visits to the Heritage Centre are in back in full swing, and towards the end of June we took part in the Big Bang Fair for the first time. The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair is the UK’s biggest celebration of STEM for young people. Geared towards 11 to 14 year olds, it aims to provide careers inspiration, advice and opportunities to meet with real scientists and engineers. Together with four brilliant volunteers we represented the specialty of anaesthesia, and would like to think that we’ve inspired at least a few of the 20,000 young visitors to pursue a career in medicine! 


Our new temporary exhibition celebrating the Association of Anaesthetists’ 90th anniversary has opened in the museum at 21 Portland Place The events programme that accompanies the exhibition began with a tour of the College of Arms, where we saw the grants of arms made to the Association in 1945, as well as that of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and other medical associations. Find out more about our upcoming events linked to the Association’s 90th anniversary.


As part of this year’s celebrations, a new timeline has been installed in the lobby of our headquarters at 21 Portland Place to commemorate some of the Association’s milestones, and biographies have been added to the portraits of our past presidents. There have been some additions to the museum too! We’ve installed two interactive pieces, a map and a game, that were both designed by students from Westminster Kingsway College who completed a placement with us earlier this year.

We’re looking forward to engaging with all of you in the next few months, whether that may be at one of our talks or workshops, or at an Association conference.

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