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Richard Moore

Shropshire Doctors & Quacks
Richard Moore

Most histories of medicine focus on the elite royal colleges of London and the exotic diseases and squalor of the city slums, but, according to Dr Richard Moore, the real story of the emergence of healthcare as an integral component of the welfare state was written in the provincial shires. His focus is on Shropshire, but much of Shropshire Doctors & Quacks reflects what was going on in the country at large.

The practice of medicine emerged thanks to the efforts and experiments of a disparate group of practitioners, who competed in the marketplace with quacks and charlatans and eventually achieved legal recognition as a profession in the 1858 Medical Act. Emphasis is placed on the role played by collective and individual voluntary activity, in contrast to the scanty health-related activities of government. The book contains much previously unpublished archival material, and is all brought vividly to life by case studies, anecdotes, contemporary prints and cartoons.

Richard Moore, a fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners, is a ninthgeneration doctor – his family having thrown up medical men continuously since 1740 – and his insightful take on his home county’s Aesculapian history has many implications for healthcare today, including the future of the NHS. As he asks in his speculative coda, ‘Who cares?’ It is a question our forebears tackled with creativity and compassion, and Moore wonders if twenty-first-century institutions can live up to their example.


Richard was a general medical practitioner, now retired, having practised in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, for thirty-five years. He is a fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Past Provost of its Midland Faculty; had previously published Leeches to Lasers, a history of the nine generations of his family who have been doctors continuously since 1740, which introduced him to the study of medical history. He then took a PhD in the History of Medicine at the University of Birmingham, the thesis being on the development of nineteenth-century medical services in Shropshire. This is basis for Shropshire Doctors & Quacks, which gives its subject matter academic approval. He has also written for the medical press including two books for the RCGP.

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ISBN 9781445604312

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