Proposed academy of medicine

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7051.233b (Published 27 July 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:233

Proposal is a fudge between academy of medicine and of health

  1. R J Lilford
  1. Director of research and development NHS Executive, Birmingham B16 9PA

    EDITOR,—I agree with Richard Smith that an academy of medicine is required1; I argued constantly for such an academy throughout my six years on the council of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. What I am not certain about is whether it should be an academy of health (to include a broader constituency) or an academy of medicine. If it was an academy of medicine then it would, and should, be the official (non-trade union) voice of the medical profession. In such a scenario doctors should make decisions and resolutions, albeit with the benefit of advice from nonmedical people, whether sociologists, journalists, or lawyers. Alternatively, an academy of health could be invoked, which would require a much broader constituency at the decision making level. The proposal in Smith's editorial seems something of a fudge between the two. As such, I would not support it; it would neither be a medical representative body nor (with three quarters of the members being doctors) satisfy legitimate aspirations of non-medical professionals.

    The other issue on which Smith's editorial is silent is the principles governing membership of the academy and any governing body (council). In my opinion, at least half the posts would have to be filled by election so that a feeling of ownership could develop. The central body could include the presidents (and perhaps secretaries) of all the medical royal colleges. In this way the new body would sit above the royal colleges and act as a conduit by which the profession could have a dialogue with the government.

    It would be interesting to know of any experience that other countries have had with such a body.


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