Thomas Wakley is said to have been born in this beautiful place on July 11 1795, one of eleven children born to a local farmer and his wife.
As he grew up, his ideas became far too big for the peaceful hills and dales of Membury and he made his way to London where he soon became involved in the law. He became coroner for West Middlesex and an MP, famous for taking up the cause of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
His greatest achievement was the Medical Act of 1858, by which the |General Medical Council was set up to control standards in the medical profession and force doctors to register with the GMC so that their work could be regulated and standards of care maintained throughout the country. For the first time, patients could be sure that if their medical practitioner was on the GMC Register, then he was properly qualified. And for the first time, any doctor who failed to deliver good medicine could face action from the Council and in extreme case, be struck off the Register which brought his medical activities to an abrupt end.
The GMC continues to this day as does The Lancet, which is full of articles and information to enable busy doctors to keep up with developments in the medical world. Perhaps we should have heard more about Thomas Wakley?