Last October we highlighted that the Royal College of Physicians was looking to meet a £3 million hole in its finances by selling rare, non-medical, books from its library. Despite the need for funds there was an outcry from the membership and this prompted the board of trustees to reflect further before recently announcing that any sale is on hold, at least for now. Instead the College has found necessary savings, including from a sale of wine from its cellar!

Even in such fast-changing and precarious times it is important to take time to make considered and informed decisions in the best interests of a charity’s purposes – here the maintenance of a high standard of medical ethics and education – where possible after taking into consideration the views of those the organisation is there to serve. Although the books in question were non-medical, and there is nothing to suggest they could not be sold (although any sale might have jeopardised the College’s accreditation as a museum), they evidence the breadth of education of early physicians and clearly represent an important element of the charity’s identity and heritage which members are loath to see disappear overnight, in response to the last year’s catastrophic events.