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May I make three brief comments on the interesting article ‘The flowering of London pride: finding a name for it’ (July 2001 JRSM, pp. 355-357) by Professor Crisp, Sir David Innes Williams and Mr Price?
One significant omission is any reference to the 1992 report by Professor Sir Bernard Tomlinson which actually brought about the present configuration of London medical schools.
Secondly, the sentence ‘The degrees for the moment remain those of the University of London’ (emphasis added) calls for comment. While nothing these days can be predicted with any certainty, it should be made clear that the University of London degree is one of the most powerful unifying forces in the federal University and it is a condition of membership that every College, even if it has its own degree-awarding powers, must leave those in suspense and award degrees of the University. That policy, so far as I know, commands universal support across the University.
Thirdly, the authors revive the Flowers suggestion that the new groupings of medical schools within their multifaculty Colleges should be renamed. Tomlinson was wise enough not to venture into this territory, let alone make any concrete suggestions.
It was left to each group to determine their own names. Now, as those institutions are settling down within their new institutions, is hardly the moment to reopen this question. I was very much involved in one of these sets of mergers and know better than most what the difficulties were and not least the sensitivities with regard to name.
Rather than pull out the names of great medical scientists in the history of London's medical schools and teaching hospitals, it is even more important where possible to retain those names of medical schools with a distinguished history and tradition which resonate in the medical world; and the second imperative is to ensure that these new schools become fully a part of the multi-faculty College of which they are now a part. Importing new names and titles would damage that process and create even more uncertainty.