Westminster Hospital Medical School, UK

The Westminster Hospital Medical School was formally founded in 1834 by George Guthrie, an ex-military surgeon – although students had been taken on at Westminster Hospital almost from the hospital’s foundation in 1719 (the traditional name at the Westminster was “cubs”).

The hospital and medical school moved to larger buildings several times in the decades that followed, leading to conflict among the staff on several occasions. Guthrie’s forceful urgings on retaining the location of the hospital and school on one occasion resulted in an argument climaxing in a pistol duel between two surgeons.

One early Westminster student was John Snow, later the founder of modern epidemiology.

In 1905, the teaching of pre-clinical subjects ended at Westminster, and moved to King’s College. The school was taken over by the army in 1914 to train pathologists for the war effort. Student numbers and the school suffered as a result, and it was only after 1920 that numbers improved.

In 1984, Westminster Hospital Medical School merged with local rivals Charing Cross Hospital Medical School to form Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School. This move was part of a general series of mergers in the London medical schools in the early 1980s. Westminster Hospital moved to the site of St Stephen’s Hospital on Fulham Road in Chelsea in 1993, and changed its name to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. In 1997, CXWMS merged with the National Heart and Lung Institute at the Royal Brompton Hospital, and Imperial College London, whose medical department was St Mary’s Hospital Medical School. The new institution was called Imperial College School of Medicine, and was at the time the largest medical school in the UK.

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