Postgrad Med J 79:229-234 doi:10.1136/pmj.79.930.229
  • History of medicine

History of the development of geriatric medicine in the UK

  1. A Barton,
  2. G Mulley
  1. Department of Elderly Medicine, St James’s University Hospital, Leeds
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Alan Barton, Department of Elderly Medicine, Great George Street, Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds LS1 3EX, UK; 
  • Received 15 October 2002
  • Accepted 19 December 2002


In this review the development of the specialty of geriatric medicine in the UK is traced from its humble beginnings. Elderly medicine is now thriving and represents the largest group of physician members of the Royal Colleges of Physicians. Geriatric medicine is essentially about optimising the care and wellbeing of older people. A key component of this is teamwork. A successful service for old people depends on the skills of many people, including nurses, therapists, social workers, and others. The contributions made by nurses and other professionals have been immense, but space does not permit a historical review of their important role.