John Forbes Munro

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 18 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1245
  1. John Cash, John Munro

John Forbes Munro’s medical education was delayed because of the demands of national service. He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and trained as a physiotherapist. By the time he had completed his service he had lost his faith, but acquired an empathy and passionate commitment for the health and welfare for those less privileged than himself. Moreover, after working for two years in a strictly hierarchical environment, he had developed a tendency to challenge those whom he believed abused their authority. He left the military with a disregard for uniforms—which later translated to the clinician’s traditional smart dark suit and tie. Despite the fact that he came to the Edinburgh medical school with no scientific secondary education, he graduated with honours.

In 1969 John applied for a consultant physician post at the Eastern General and Edenhall hospitals—run-down neglected institutions that were of little interest to the Edinburgh medical establishment or the rapidly expanding medical school. He set about building a patient centred medical unit team that was to become a major force in Edinburgh. He promoted the concept that the patients’ management should always be seen in the context of their families and set aside one evening a week to talk to patients’ relatives. He insisted that teaching should be a major function of the unit as he believed it had a …

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