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UK Women in Medicine

Our first British women in Medicine to celebrate.  They will be added to but it's a start.  The old, the new and the renowned.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917)

Main achievements: First Englishwoman to qualify as a Doctor, first female mayor in England and a member of the suffragette movement.


Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was a pioneering physician and political campaigner.  She was the first Englishwoman to qualify as a doctor. Female physicians were unheard of in 19th century Britain and her attempts to study at a number of medical schools were denied.  In 1865 she passed the Society of Apothecaries examinations and gained a certificate which enabled her to become a doctor. The society then changed its rules to prevent other women entering the profession this way. In 1866 she established a dispensary for women in London and in 1870 was made a visiting physician to the East London Hospital.  


Despite obtaining a medical degree from the University of Paris, the British Medical Register refused to recognise her qualification. In 1872, Anderson founded the New Hospital for Women in London (later renamed after its founder), staffed entirely by women.  Anderson's determination paved the way for other women, and in 1876 an act was passed permitting women to enter the medical professions. In 1883, Anderson was appointed dean of the London School of Medicine for Women, which she had helped to found in 1874, and oversaw its expansion.  In 1902, Anderson retired to Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast. In 1908, she became first female mayor in England. She was also a member of the suffragette movement.

Professor Dame Sally Davies DBE, FMedSci, FRS

Chief Medical Officer for England and the first woman to fill this post


Sally Davies is the Chief Medical Officer for England and the first woman to fill this post. She is a haematologist with specialist research interest in sickle cell disease. But in her advisory post she guides government decisions on diverse subjects such as superbugs, drug trials and obesity.

She developed the National Institute for Health Research in 2006 with a budget of £1 billion. She is an Emeritus Professor at Imperial College.


She was chair of the 2013 AMR forum at the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) and was for three years the chair of the WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on AMR. Most recently, Dame Sally has been appointed a co-convener of the UN Inter-Agency Co-ordination Group on AMR, set up in response to the AMR declaration made at UNGA 2016.


Dame Sally was a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board 2014-2016 and has led delegations to a range of WHO summits and forums since 2004.

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