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The rise of the industrious GP

Suzie Grogan continues her series tracing the development of the medical profession. This month: the rise of the general practitioner.

Bottles on the shelf in old pharmacyThe Medical and Physical Journal of 1809 first refers to a ‘general practitioner of medicine’ and, in 1813, elaborated on the description, stating that a GP was a ‘general practitioner in medicine surgery and midwifery in which the apothecary would be included’.

The term GP came into common usage between 1810 and 1830, although before that medical practitioners in towns and villages were often still designated as surgeon or apothecary.

Once doctors, or surgeon-apothecaries, began to charge for their service rather than simply the medicines they dispensed, their status depended on how they required their bills to be settled.

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