Calls for medical Academy

May 24, 1996

The medical community, battered by NHS reforms and splintered into an unwieldy number of committees, councils and colleges, might benefit from an Academy of Medicine, it was claimed this week. A working group has been set up to consult widely on the idea.

An academy would give a single voice to a community that includes professions supplementary to medicine, lawyers and managers, said Sir Michael Atiyah, former president of the Royal Society, who is chairing the working group set up by the medical education and research coordinating committee.

Launching the consultation this week, Sir Michael and Peter Lachmann, biological secretary at the Royal Society and a member of the working group secretariat, said that medicine desperately needed to improve communication with the Government and the public.

If an academy had existed when the NHS reforms were decided and implemented then "some of the terrible mistakes might have been avoided". It might, for example, have forced some reforms to be piloted in regions before being applied to the whole country.

Sir Michael gave a daunting list of some of the organisations that represent the medical community. A quick count reveals 18 councils, committees and associations. Then there are the royal colleges, specialist associations and medical research funders. "There is also a need to address such complex issues as the traditional boundaries change; both within medicine, as doctors begin to work as part of the healthcare team, and at the interface of medicine with other fields such as law, finance and ethics," he said.

* The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals has set up an independent task force on clinical academic careers in university medical and dental schools to be chaired by Sir Rex Richards, former vice chancellor of Oxford University.

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