medical schools council


Medical Schools Council elects co-Chairs for the first time


The UK’s medical schools have elected Professor John Atherton and Professor Malcolm Reed as co-Chairs of their national body, the Medical Schools Council.

This is the first time that the organisation has been jointly led, providing an opportunity for the co-Chairs to bring their experience in different areas to the council’s activities.

It follows an election in which they received an equal number of votes. Professor Atherton will take the lead for the first 18 months of their three-year term and Professor Reed the second.

Over this term they will drive the council’s agendas, from fairness in admissions to championing medical research and leading in high-quality assessment.

Professor Atherton said:

“We would like to thank the outgoing Chair, Professor Jenny Higham, who has been a brilliant advocate for medical students and staff throughout her tenure, and led MSC with huge skill and tact.

“We are delighted and very proud to take up the role of leading the Medical Schools Council at an exciting time, with several new medical schools having been established and more medical students being trained than ever before.

“However, there are huge challenges. The UK has a clinical academic workforce that is numerically failing to keep pace with the doctors it serves. With Brexit and financial threats to universities and research funders, the pre-eminent international position of UK medical faculties in research is in question. These faculties are where the vast majority of the country’s medical research occurs and it is essential that they remain strong.”

Professor Reed said:

“A key role for medical schools has been working with the General Medical Council as it prepares the new Medical Licensing Assessment. This will be the biggest change in UK medical education for many decades and a significant change for our students, so it is vital that we work together with GMC to get this right for future generations of doctors and their patients.

“More broadly, MSC now draws expertise from staff across our medical schools and there are many different workstreams to coordinate. Widening participation to the medical degree will remain a major focus, with lots of initiatives underway to bring talent into the profession, from organising summer schools to national collaboration on interview resources.

“We look forward to approaching these areas with the collaborative spirit that has long been so fundamental to MSC.”

Professor Malcolm Reed is Dean of Brighton and Sussex Medical School, a joint school shared by the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex. BSMS was established in 2003 and has established a strong reputation for the quality of education provided and has increased its annual cohort following the recent expansion in UK medical student places. Professor Reed is a surgeon with focus on breast cancer and continues an active research programme in this area. He moved to his current role in 2015 after many years working as a clinical academic at the University of Sheffield.

Professor John Atherton is Pro Vice chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham. The University has a large undergraduate entry medical school, a graduate entry medical school based at Derby, and has recently partnered with the University of Lincoln to launch the joint new Lincoln Medical School. John is also a medical researcher with a particular interest in diseases of the stomach and duodenum. He practises as an honorary consultant gastroenterologist in Nottingham and is a Non-Executive Director of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Recent elections in the Medical Schools Council have also seen Professor Una Macleod from Hull York Medical School and Professor David Burn from the University of Newcastle join the Executive Committee.


Notes to editors

  1. The Medical Schools Council is the representative body for UK medical schools. The council is made of the heads of UK medical schools and meets in order to shape the future of medical education and research in the UK. For information about the work of the Medical Schools Council, please see
  2. For more information on this press release, please contact Edward Knight, Senior Communications Officer, on 020 7419 5427, or


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