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The College of Physicians of London

'Curb the audacity of those wicked men'

The College of Physicians of London (later Royal College of Physicians of London) was established in 1518 by a Royal Charter from King Henry VIII. It was set up to license qualified practitioners in an attempt to curb malpractice.

Unlike the barber-surgeons who had been incorporated as guilds, the physicians petitioned the King to establish a college to administer licences to those qualified to practice medicine and to discipline those involved in malpractice.

The college was intended to 'curb the audacity of those wicked men who shall profess medicine more for the sake of their avarice than from the assurance of any good conscience'.

Modern changes

In 1923, an Act of Parliament extended the licensing powers of the college to cover all of England, and not just London, and it became the Royal College of Physicians (RCP). The RCP is responsible for setting education and training standards for physicians and promoting their interests.


Royal College of Physicians.
History of the RCP.
RCP; nd.