‘Stark’ email from new Medical School head leaves students ‘questioning if anything will change’

‘A lot more should have been addressed’

Some students were left disappointed yesterday after receiving a “stark” letter introducing Dr Margaret McMillan as the new interim head of Glasgow University Medical School.

Dr McMillan, who previously held the role of Honorary Clinical Associate Professor at the university, will take charge until “early 2023” whilst the school undertakes a “robust and competitive” recruitment process to find a permanent head.

In the 63 word email, Dr McMillan introduced herself and outlined her experience.

She wrote: “I am writing to introduce myself as the interim Head of the Undergraduate Medical School. My background is as an NHS renal physician and teacher in all years of the MB ChB course. I am keen to optimise your learning and experience, and would be delighted to hear your ideas to help achieve this.”

Dr McMillan has stepped up to the role after former head, Professor John Paul Leach left the university last month amid an ongoing investigation into his conduct.

According to The Herald, this followed “multiple” complaints from students and staff.

Leach has said he was not leaving because of the investigation and was not found guilty of bullying or misogyny. He added, he leaves with “his record at the university clear” and has “no case to answer”.

On seeing the email from Dr McMillan, a female medical student suggested to The Glasgow Tab “a lot more should have been addressed”.

The medic added: “God it’s quite stark, it doesn’t fill me with much confidence that anything is going to change.”

Glasgow’s Medical School has faced months of controversy. Last month, a senior academic resigned after 35 years, saying “a culture of misogyny is flourishing” within the school.

A female medical student previously told The Glasgow Tab: “They don’t care for medical students and their voices, let alone the voices of colleagues and anybody raising issues.”

A separate investigation opened by the university into “gender-based bullying and discrimination” found that “behaviours were uncovered that fell short of our high professional expectations”.

Other current medical students told The Glasgow Tab, they appreciate McMillan’s call for students to speak up on improvements that could be made to the school. One undergraduate medical student claimed she has “high hopes” about McMillan replacing Leach.

Last week, Professor Matthew Walters, Head of the school of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing wrote a letter to staff and students claiming he was “delighted” about Dr McMillan’s appointment as interim head suggesting “her experience will be of great value to us over the next few months”.

He added: “Inclusivity and diversity is a key part of our identity as a School and across the University.

“We recognise that we must do better. I am determined that we work in a School that promotes treating each other with kindness, with dignity, and with respect. I speak for all senior colleagues in the School and College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Science when I say that I am sorry that any of our staff or students have been subjected to unwelcome, unacceptable behaviour and distressing incidents.

“An action plan is being taken forward to review and where necessary improve the working environment for all our staff and students.”

Dr McMillan did not mention these plans in her address to students.

Glasgow University has been approached for comment. 

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