The Development of Medical Specialties, Chairs and Departments, 1948-2018

The second half of the 20th century saw the increasing specialisation of medicine as well as the growth of medical research and scientific medicine. Latterly, evidence-based medicine, which is based on scientific data as well as clinical experience, evolved.

© Archives Principal Hetherington

Sir Hector Hetherington (Principal, and Vice-Chancellor 1936-61) redeveloped the Medical School, introducing the modern academic concept of medicine into the hospitals via a series of key full-time professorial appointments to academic clinical units.

This approach was founded on clinical teaching and research using laboratory methods in specialised units.

Postgraduate teaching and examining likewise developed from general qualifications in medicine or surgery (memberships or fellowships of UK Royal Colleges) to training in medical or surgical subspecialties. The University Faculty of Medicine collaborated increasingly with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, previously the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow until 1960. Other collaborations between the Faculty of Medicine and the College included the Royal Medico-Chirurgical Society of Glasgow  for meetings and presentations, and the Scottish Medical Journal  for publications.

From the 1960s, the Faculty introduced several new chairs in medical specialties, as well as Titular Professors (retitled Personal Professors from 1995).

This section reviews the development of these specialties from 1948 (when the NHS was founded) until 2018, by which time the five general in-patient hospitals in Glasgow were combined into four - Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Gartnavel General Hospital, and (on the Southern General Hospital site) the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and Royal Hospital for Children. Each of these included new University facilities for teaching and research.

For each clinical specialty, chairs, professors, and other University and NHS staff who made significant contributions during this period are listed in this section of the History.

We are grateful to all our colleagues who spent much time collaborating on these specialty sections and to all others who contributed in one way or another.

Julie Kennedy, Peter Macfarlane, Marjorie Allison, Gordon Lowe; College of MVLS, University of Glasgow, 2019.