1844 The Lancet  
54 tion of the council, the construction of which must be objectionable to every class of the profession, inasmuch as it allowed persons who were not medical men, to exercise control over medical subjects. Much of the present bill was useless; it repealed a number of unimportant acts, which had long become obsolete; and where it was not useless it was mischievous. Sir James Graham, by repealing all former bills, clears the way for making work for his own council, who will exercise an unbounded
more » ... rcise an unbounded control over medical affairs. He is not aware that his bill will introduce quacks into the profession; a result which he (Mr. H.) could not but deplore, however he might feel indifferent to the practice of quacks, who were notoriously practising as such. The profession had hitherto maintained its respectability; and this respectability was, in great measure, owing to the exertions of the Apothecaries' Company; for he (Mr. H.) knew, from personal observation and experience, the beneficial effects of the bill of 1815. Before that period, the apothecaries were plunged in a state of the most profound ignorance: they knew little or nothing of the nature of the drugs which they employed, or of the diseases in which they were administered, and they were compelled to resort to physicians and surgeons to teach them the nature and treatment of disease; and they often did mischief by meddling with instruments, the use of which they did not understand, and with medicines which they knew not how to administer. In the present day, however, the general practitioners were so well educated, that they were enabled to undertake medical, surgical, and obstetric cases, with great benefit to the large majority of the middling classes, and of the poor, who thus secured good and efficient medical attendance at moderate charges. But if this bill became law, students would not endure the severe course of study imposed by the Apothecaries' Company, but would at once commence practice, without any qualification at all. Mr. Hunter concluded by recommending unanimity in opposing the repeal of the bill of 1815; which, though it fell short of the expectations of medical men, had yet produced the most beneficial results, in improving the education of the general practitioners. (Hear, hear.) The resolution was then put, and carried unanimously. Mr. R. H. SEMPLE, in proposing the second resolution, remarked that he was not disposed to argue that the Apothecaries' Company had always exercised the powers confided to them in the most judicious manner; for instead of prosecuting ignorant and unqualified persons, they had too often interfered with gentlemen who were regularly educated as surgeons and physicians. He was disposed to believe, that gentlemen who had finished their education at any of the Scotch or Irish universities or colleges, or who had studied in the continental schools, were as well qualified to practise their profession as the licentiates of Apothecaries' Hall; and to that part of the bill which equalized the rights of medical men he could offer no objection; but he most decidedly objected to those parts of the bill which would allow persons to practise without any education at all, which he thought an extension of the doctrine of free trade of the most injurious tendency. Whether the large powers conceded to the Apothecaries' Company ought to be retained by them or transferred to some other corporation, was a question which he would not venture to discuss; but he perfectly agreed with the preceding speakers, in thinking that some compulsory system of study and examination should be enforced by the legislature. He had passed the Apothecaries' Hall, not because he entertained any profound veneration for that body, but because the law obliged him to do so; and he thought it unfair, if after having obeyed the law, he should be placed in a worse position than those who had disobeyed it, as he certainly would be if that bill were allowed to pass. The resolution was as follows:— 11 That while this meeting fully admits the justice of allowing an equality of professional privileges to all who have received an adequate medical education, without reference to the school or college where they may have studied, yet they cannot but remonstrate against the provisions of a bill which removes the slight protection already afforded to the profession, and which virtually lays open its practice to ignorant and illiterate pretenders." Dr. BALLARD, in seconding the resolution, concurred in the views of the last speaker as to the justice of allowing equality of privileges to all who had been adequately qualified; and remarked, that the school of Giessen, for instance, which had attained a universal reputation through the researches of Professor Liebig, was as well qualified to send forth well-informed practitioners as any other university. The resolution was carried unanimously. Mr. KESTEVEN proposed the third resolution, and remarked, that the preamble of the bill set forth that it is for the good of the community that competent medical practitioners should be distinguished from unskilful and ignorant pretenders; but by its subsequent enactments it repealed all laws containing such re-strictions as shall establish this desirable distinction. The beneficial results of the act of 1815 might be traced, in the contrast presented by the general practitioners of 1844, to the state of the medical profession before the passing of that act. The College of Surgeons now required a more complete course of study from their candidates than they did thirty years ago, because they had been stimulated into activity by the Apothecaries' Company to require a higher qualification from those who sought their diploma. The exertions of the Apothecaries' Company had received the commendations of the highest authorities in the medical profession, some of whom, as Sir A. Cooper, Sir D. Barry, Sir H. Halford, Mr. Guthrie, and others, had declared, when giving their evidence before the House of Commons in 1834, that the Apothecaries' Company had raised the standard of the profession higher than any other examining body. Sir D. Barry even stated it as his opinion, that "a man may pass an examination at the College of Physicians, who is a good classical scholar, but who knows nothing of chemistry, nothing of medical jurisprudence. nothing of surgery, little or nothing of anatomy, nothing of the diseases of women in childbed, and nothing of the manner of delivering them." Now there was no one in the room who would have ventured before the board of examiners of Apothecaries' Hall with such glaring and dangerous deficiencies; for, if he did, he would be pretty sure of rejection. The pure surgeons, as they were called, had in fact the same examination at the College of Surgeons as the general practitioner, but the latter was obliged, in addition, to undergo an examination at Apothecaries' Hall, which required a much more extensive course of study; so that the pure surgeon, so far from being superior in point of attainments to the general practitioner, was actually inferior to him. Then the College of Physicians required five years devoted to the study of medicine, with attendance on lectures; but the Apothecaries' Company required eight years, with attendance on a greater number of lectures. The resolution was as follows :-That this meeting considers the improved state of the medical profession at the present day, in England and Wales, to be in great degree attributable to the exertions of the Apothecaries' Company, and that the repeal of the act of 1815, without the substitution of a more efficient measure of protection, is calculated to retard the progress of medical science in this country." Mr. MANN seconded the resolution, and observed, that the present system, though imperfect, was much better than that proposed by Sir J. Graham. Instead of removing restrictions on irregular practice, he (Mr. 1.) would recommend a more summary mode of treating illegal practitioners: and if the government had the power summarily to convict persons who dealt in, snuff or tobacco without a licence, he thought the same protection might be extended to the case of medical practice. Mr. BATEMAN concurred in the opinion that the Apothecaries' Company had done much service in elevating the character of the whole profession, and bore personal testimony to the strictness of the examination at Apothecaries' Hall. But that corporation had too often prosecuted qualified medical men, while they totally neglected quacks and bone-setters. The physicians had been improved indirectly by the operation of the act of 1815; for whereas formerly they would not soil their hands by opening bodies, they were now happy to conduct post-mortem examiiiations. The resolution was carried unanimously. Mr. J. HUNTER proposed, and Mr. JEAFFRESON seconded a resolution, that a committee should be appointed to prepare a petition to parliament, in accordance with the preceding resolutions; and that Mr. R. H. Semple and Mr. Kesteven should act as secretaries; which was also unanimously carried. A vote of thanks was then passed to " The Times" newspaper, for the able and energetic manner in which the interests of the medical profession had been advocated in that journal; and it was determined to advertise the proceedings in " The Times," THE LANCET, and the " Medical Gazette," and to commence a subscription to defray the necessary expenses. A vote of thanks was then passed to the chairman, which was suitably acknowledged, and the meeting separated. ROCHDALE.
doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(02)62297-4 fatcat:cpknwalpvvdq3l33urcydzroei