1902 Encyclopedia > Medicine > UK Laws Relating to Medical Profession, Dentists and Pharmacists

(Part 6)

UK Laws Relating to Medical Profession, Dentists and Pharmacists

The Acts relating to the statues of the medical profession are known as the Medical Acts. The principal measure, passed in 1858, created a body of twenty-four, called the general council of medical education and registration; by a subsequent Act the council received a charter of incorporation, so that it might draw up, and become the publisher and proprietor of, a list and description of officinal drugs, which should be called the British Pharmacopoeia, and should supersede previous pharmacopoeias. The principal duty of the medical council is to keep a register of qualified practitioners. The preamble of the Act by which the medical register was created asserts the desirability of those in want of medical aid being able to distinguish qualified form unqualified practitioners; and those whose names are on the register are alone presumably qualified. To be a registered medical practitioners confers a certain positive legal status (right to sue for fees, hold appointments, give certificates, &c.) ; but there is nothing in the English law to prevent any persons whomsoever from practicing medicine and taking fees, provided he does not assume misleading titles. Those who are entitled (on payment of five pounds) to have their names inserted in the medical register are graduates in medicine or surgery of the universities of the United Kingdom, licentiates, members, or fellows of the Royal Colleges of Physicians or Surgeons in London, Dublin, and Edinburgh, licentiates or fellows of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and licentiates of the Apothecaries’ Halls of London and Dublin. The council consists of the representatives of those bodies, of six crown nominee, and the president. The medical council possesses certain judicial and executive powers over the names on its register; if , after due inquiry, a registered practitioner be judged by the medical council to have been guilty of infamous conduct in any professional respect, the medical council may, if they see fit, direct their registrar to erase the practitioner’s name from the register. The medical council keeps also a register (Unpublished ) of medical students; whoever has passed a recognized examination in arts, and has forwarded a certificate signed by a teacher of medicine that he has bona fide begun the study of medicine, is entitled to have his name entered in the register of students of medicine, with the date of his commencement. The object of the students’ register is merely to provide a common and convenient record of the date of commencement of medical study, and, by implication, of the fact that the examination in arts has been passed.

The medical council owes its title of a "council of education" to certain powers possessed by it of visiting the examinations of the universities and corporations, and certain ill-defined powers of visiting the medical schools. The council may, if they see fit, report to the privy council any deficiencies that they may have discovered in the teaching or examination, and the privy council may proceed to further steps. But, beyond publishing the reports of their visitations, the medical council do not appear to have had occasion to put the machinery in force. The state has not otherwise interfered to prescribe the subject-matter or the minimum standard of medical education, although there has been at least one unsuccessful attempt by the Government of the day to establish a uniform minimum. By an Act of 1876 parliament has interposed to affirm the principle that women are entitled to become registered practitioners of medicine.

Under the Dentists Act of 1878 the profession of dentistry acquired a legal status corresponding to that of the medical profession the general medical council having charge of its register also.

Pharmaceutical chemists are now licensed under an Act passed in 1876; since that date licences are granted only to those who pass either the minor of the major examination of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, a Pharmacy Act for Ireland (1876) having corresponding provisions.

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