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Limitations of scientific medicine


I was captivated by clinical medicine
Harold Lambert Physician
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UCH was a good medical school and I got grabbed immediately by clinical medicine.

[Q] Was that the first place you'd seen patients or had you...

No, there'd been a long vacation course at Addenbrookes, about six weeks, and we'd seen patient, but at a slightly more remote level and UCH was the first place I'd seen patients properly and I got grabbed by... I never looked at people's hands properly how to observe and so I had these two trends of interested in science and interested in doing medicine, really. Well... there were some very good teachers, and some very bad teachers, and there were some very good things and some very bad things and I learnt a lot from both of them. You looked after patients as a clerk, as you know, and it was very sort of big experience. It's so far back, that was 1946 to 1949, that it's almost hard to imagine now how different medicine was and the world was. We didn't have all that number of drugs, some but not very many.

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: University College Hospital

Duration: 1 minute, 24 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008