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Influential teachers and going to Cambridge


Early specialisation and dislike of history
Harold Lambert Physician
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In those days, probably still, you had to specialise after school cert so I did science from then on until going to university but I actually have to say that in those years when I was specialised in science I read more of everything else than I think I've ever read before or since in my life because, although people are dead against early specialisation and in a way I am too it liberated you from stuff which you thought either was rubbish or you didn't particularly want to do. I had a particular loathing of school history and I now realise why I loathed it so much, because you were pretending to know about things which you couldn't possibly know about. So... I remember you had to write essays on the motives of Philip II in invading the Netherlands. I mean, how the hell would I know anything about... what it meant was you'd regurgitated what bit of the book you remembered. And I felt, whether I brought it to consciousness I'm not sure, but I actually felt in my bones this was a bogus operation and it really offended me so I hated the history master and I gave up history. Now, of course, in old age, you go back to history in a big way.

British doctor Harold Lambert (1926-2017) spent his career tackling infectious diseases, helping in the development of pyrazinamide as an effective treatment for tuberculosis. He also published work on the rational use of antibiotics and was a trustee and medical advisor for the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Listeners: Roger Higgs

Roger Higgs was an inner city GP for 30 years in south London, UK, and is Emeritus Professor of General Practice at Kings College London, where he set up the department.

He gained scholarships in classics at Cambridge but changed to medicine after a period of voluntary work in Kenya in 1962. He was Harold Lambert's registrar for 18 months in the early 1970s, the most influential and exciting episode in his hospital training. He set up his own practice in 1975. He helped to establish medical ethics as a practical and academic subject through teaching, writing and broadcasting, and jointly set up the 'Journal of Medical Ethics' in 1975.

His other work included studies in whole person assessment and narrative in general practice and development work in primary medical care: innovations here included intermediate care centres, primary care assessment in accident and emergency departments, teaching internal medicine in general practice and establishing counselling services in medicine.

He was made MBE in 1987 for this development work and now combines bioethics governance, teaching and writing with an arts based retirement.

Tags: Philip II of Spain

Duration: 1 minute, 14 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008