The Swedish Medical Association
The Swedish Medical Association (SMA) was founded in 1903 and represents the entire medical profession in Sweden. Membership of the SMA is voluntary. At the (beginning of 1998 the membership amounted to 35,260; including medical students, physicians over the age of 65 and also members abroad. This means that some 95 per cent of the medical profession in Sweden are members of the SMA.The SMA's internal organisation is built up on various sub entities. There are currently seven professional associations, 2 (local associations and 47 specialist societies). The professional associations are the Association of Senior Physicians Association of Junior Physicians, Association of General Practitioners, Association of Private Practitioners, Association of Clinical Medical Directors, Association of Occupational Health Physicians, and the Association of Military Surgeons.
The top decision-making body of the SMA is the annual representative meeting. The political decisions made between the annual meetings are made by a 14-member executive board. The daily affairs are handled by the Secretariat, including some 90 staff headed by the Secretary General. The Secretariat comprises departments for negotiations, for planning and research, for information, for finance, for private practice and the staff of the Secretary General. The Swedish Medical Journal published weekly is also a department within the SMA.The tasks of the SMA and its branch organisations are manifold, but essentially the SMA functions in two capacities: as the professional organisation for the Swedish physicians, and the trade union of the medical profession.
The SMA takes an active part in the public debate on health-care issues, including aspects on organisation and financing, medical training and research, quality assurance, ethics etc. The SMA is generally represented on various government committees with the remit of examining various issues pertaining to the healthcare system.The SMA's role as a trade union entails negotiations with various employers on salaries and other employment conditions, including fees for private practitioners. The functions and responsibilities of the local medical associations as local trade unions have increased during later years. For many years the SMA has also taken an active part in international co-operation, mainly within the framework of various international medical bodies, eg, the World Medical Association, The Standing Committee of European Doctors, the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) and the European Union of General Practitioners (UEMO).