Saturday, 13 August 2011


The reign of John Black, the president of the Royal College of Surgeons of England since 2008 has come to an end after an eventful 3 years at the helm.

Unlike most (not all) of his predecessors, he leaves without a knighthood.  Though many found him to be a tad 'old-fashioned' I quite liked him. It may have been unfashionable but his relentless criticism of the European Working Time Directive and its destructive effect on surgical training in Britain brought him in direct conflict with the influential BMA. He also was in favour of many if not all of the reforms suggested in the NHS reform bill and again was not afraid to say so, much to the chagrin I imagine, of the BMA. Although some good things were achieved by the college during his tenure,  the fact that colleges were sidelined by essentially statist interventions in the field of medical/surgical training during the New Labour era made his job very difficult.
I hope the new man, Professor Norman Williams,  continues to preside in the same robust fashion and I wish John Black good wishes in whatever he may be doing now. I have embedded his last letter to Fellows and members published in the College Bulletin.