The Catholic Medical Association (CMA) was founded in 1911 as the Guild of St Luke, Cosmas and Damian, later being renamed the Guild of Catholic Doctors.  Only doctors and dentists were admitted as members until 2006 when it was again renamed the Catholic Medical Association and became open to all Catholic healthcare professionals, hospital chaplains and managers.

      –     Representing Catholics in the medical community

–     Creating and organising educational resources and events

–     Acting as advocates for members of the Church and medical profession in public forums

–     Providing guidance for bishops, politicians and others on healthcare ethics and policy

–     Supporting the next generation of doctors and healthcare workers

  The Sheffield Branch covers the whole of the Hallam diocese.  Regrettably in recent years the number of members has dwindled and now stands at approximately twelve, all of them being doctors and no other health care professionals.  We hold an Annual General Meeting at the University of Sheffield Catholic Chaplaincy, where we discuss events of topical importance.  We are involved in teaching medical ethics in the medical course at the University of Sheffield.  Topics covered recently include palliative care with stress on end of life care; organ donation and transplantation and termination of pregnancy.  We have also held talks on embryo research, stem cell research and the role of Roman Catholic chaplains in war situations.  We seek to encourage students to attend these talks.

  We are keen to establish a more active branch which includes not only doctors and dentists, but other healthcare professionals such as nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists and others.  At the present time the medical profession is faced with many new developments and trends in modern health and social policy.  These include such controversial issues as embryonic stem cell research, assisted conception, transplantation ethics, living wills, care pathways and euthanasia.  We are also faced with financial restraints and limitations in healthcare.  We need the help and advice of the Catholic Medical Association in responding to these within the teachings of the Church.

  Our aims are to provide professional support, informed opinion and an effective voice making itself heard at the highest government level.  We can only do this by increasing our numbers and becoming more active.  At national level our local President, Dr Steve Brennan, is the National Secretary of the Catholic Medical Association and attends national meetings.

  The Catholic Medical Association also publishes the Catholic Medical Quarterly which has an international reputation as a leading Catholic healthcare journal, providing articles on key issues in medicine, helping to support healthcare professionals in their practice and exploring such topics as conscience in contemporary healthcare.  Conscience is particularly important and the Catholic Medical Association can assist in ensuring that the rights of healthcare professionals to object to participating in procedures against human life are legally protected.

  At a time when Catholics in healthcare are facing difficult decisions, it essential to have a focal point for advice.  We ask healthcare professionals in the Diocese to seriously consider joining the Sheffield Branch.  Standard membership for doctors and dentists is £50pa, with a concessionary rate of £30pa for those who are not higher rate tax payers.  Student rate is £10pa.   Full details of how to join may be found on the Catholic Medical Association website: http://www.catholicmedicalassociation.org.uk

Andrew T Raftery, Secretary Sheffield Branch, Catholic Medical Association