Reviews Art

The Healing Touch: 500 years of Scots in sickness and health

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 08 September 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:580
  1. Colin Douglas, doctor and novelist
  1. Edinburgh

    An anonymous contributor to the visitors' book at this lively and informative exhibition asks, “Why do the surgeons scowl while the psychiatrists smile?” But Scotland's surgeons have every reason to be happy: this show is part of celebrations marking the incorporation of the barber-surgeons of Edinburgh in 1505, and hence the half millennium of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

    Exhibits range from vast solemn portraits to sketches, photographs, and a fascinating glimpse into film archives; and the pictures tell the story of 500 years of Scottish medicine and its unexpected impact on the wider world.

    In the beginning, all the best ideas came from Holland; and the Leiden connection—with its emphasis on the clinical and the practical—is fully acknowledged. There was a medical school in Edinburgh by 1726, an embryonic teaching hospital—in practice a handful of beds for the sick poor—by …

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