The Norwich Medico-Chirurgical Society
The Society's first President Dr. (later Sir) Peter Eade (picture courtesy of Jarrold and Sons Ltd.)
This society is now in its one hundred and fiftieth year and is one of the oldest medical societies still in existence.
Its earliest history though began in 1812 with the formation of the Norwich Philosophical Society whose members included poets, painters and philosophers as well as scientists, chemists and doctors. This ran for about 15 years and was followed by the Norwich and Norfolk United Medical Book Society. The formation of The Norwich Pathological Society in 1848 provided a format for discussing clinical and pathological cases.
The society as it is known today began following a series of meetings, the last of these being in the medical library of St Andrew’s hospital, where members of the United Book and Pathological Societies agreed to amalgamate. The first joint meeting was held on 2nd July 1867 in the museum of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Dr (later Sir) Peter Eade was elected as its first president.
Eade in his address stated, “This is an age of medical change. He who would not be thrown out must keep well in the race; the pace is so rapid that leeway can scarcely be recovered. In spite of being engaged in the active busy pursuits of daily practice, time must be found to learn the ever new facts of medical science”. Something that is as true today as it was in the mid nineteenth century.
A code of law was drawn up, as was a constitution. Minor changes have been made to the constitution whilst its laws have been revised on many occasions.
The President is elected annually and alternates between a consultant and a general practitioner.
Some things have changed. Meetings are no longer held on the full moon so that members can get home by moonlight. County members no longer pay a reduced subscription. The Presidential address is no longer at the annual dinner and the dinner has moved from the summer to late November.
The emphasis is still educational but the slant has changed. National and International speakers provide their view of current medical issues. There are non-medical speakers particularly those from the local community. Social events provide a balance to the annual programme. But one of the most important roles is to maintain the links between primary and secondary care.