Royal Free HospitalFounded in 1999, the Royal Free Association (RFA) has a rich history. 

It was formed when the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine amalgamated with both the University College Medical School and the Middlesex Medical School, to become the University College London (UCL) Medical School.

Before becoming the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, it was the London School of Medicine for Women, which was founded in 1874 and was the first medical school to admit women.

It adopted its ‘new’ name in 1947 to allow for the admission of men.

The RFA — for alumni and consultant staff — has around 1,500 active members.

It was previously known as the Royal Free Old Students’ Association, which dates back to the 1920s.

A book charting the history of the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, titled How British Women Became Doctors, and authored by the late Professor Neil McIntyre, is available to buy online or in the medical library at the Royal Free Hospital.

The RFA aims to provide a forum for past students and staff to take part in and support social, educational, and charitable activities; preserve the history; and promote good relations between the school and hospital.

The next annual general meeting and clinical day will be held on Thursday 16 November 2023.  

The annual formal dinner will be held the previous day, Wednesday 15 November 2023. Details and booking forms will be circulated. 

To contact the RFA, please email rfassociation@gmail.com. You can also contact our secretary/treasurer, Dr Peter Howden, by email via peter.howden1@gmail.com, or by calling 01406 540 647.

Members of the RFA support a student hardship fund which gives help to UCL Medical School students who encounter financial difficulties during their studies. 

In 2023-2024, four student bursaries each of £1,500 are being offered, in addition to four graduate awards each of £2,500 for mature students in their penultimate year of study.

In addition to these funds, each year the RFA also supports student electives. Four bursaries of £500 can be awarded to students who take their electives in developing countries and have a bias towards infectious diseases. 

These bursaries are allocated at the discretion of the RFA’s executive committee.

The UCL Medical School has been working with students on revising the application process to make it easier for students to apply and access funds. 

This has moved from a paper form to online: ‘Moodle’ is the web-based learning platform students use for all their UCL educational resources, timetables etc.  

RFA bursaries will also be applied for via Moodle. Students can upload any supporting documents which are then sent to the student support team in the medical school. 

Please contact them for any further information or to apply for funds via medsch.student-support@ucl.ac.uk. You can access Moodle directly with a UCL login.

Dr Robert Wilkins, who attended the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine from 1961-1966, has shared with the RFA copies of the school’s student newspaper, called Free Comment.

Volume 1, number 1, price 1d, was published on 17 October 1963.

If you would like to find out more, or contact Robert, his email is rwilkins55@hotmail.com.