Physicians and Surgeons Act 1511

Petitions to the King

In the 15th century, physicians made representations to regulate their profession. In 1421, petitions were made to King Henry V requesting that only those with appropriate qualifications should be allowed to practise medicine.

However, despite the King having expressed broad support for the proposal, the shortage of qualified physicians and lack of a regulatory structure meant this was impossible to implement.

The Physicians and Surgeons Act

In 1511, under King Henry VI, the Physicians and Surgeons Act was passed, limiting the practice of medicine and surgery within a seven-mile radius of the City of London.

Physicians and surgeons were only able to operate if they had been licensed by the Bishop of London or the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral on the advice of qualified physicians or surgeons. Outside of this range, approval was to be sought by the local bishop.

Source(s)

Davenport G, McDonald I, Moss-Gibbons C (eds.)
The Royal College of Physicians and its collections: an illustrated history.
RCP; 2001.