There is one thing that makes Britain (and Ireland) great, the women that it has grown, nurtured and inspired to change the world. Some did good things whilst others will be remembered simply for their courage and determination. Of course there are those whose actions themselves may not be worthy of praise, yet the repercussions led the way to a better life. Many of these women you might already know of, some may have been previously overlooked. They will however be names that you should never forget. After all, for many of us, our lives would be a lot different had they never lived.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Eleanor Davies-Colley 1874-1934

Eleanor Davies-Colley
Eleanor Davies-Colley was amongst the first women to pursue a surgical career in the United Kingdom, in a time when it was still very much a male-dominated profession.  She was also co-founder of South London Hospital for Women and Children.
            After leaving school, she worked with the poor children in London’s East End, before beginning her medical studies in 1902.  She studied at London School of Medicine for Women, achieving an MB BS degree in 1907.  Davies-Colley graduated with her MD degree from the University of London in 1910.
            In 1911, Eleanor Davies-Colley became the first female fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.  She also started raising funds along with her colleague Maud Chadburn, to open a new South London Hospital for Woman and Children.  As well as offering improved medical care for women, it was also going to be an aid to help enhance the career prospects for female medical practitioners.  At the time, many hospitals still refused to employ women doctors.
            They raised enough money for an out-patients department in Newington Causeway which opened in 1912.  By 1916, they had a purpose built hospital on Clapham Common that was staffed entirely by women.  The hospital remained open until 1984, and retained its women-only staffing policy until the day it closed.
            In 1917, Davies-Colley became one of the founding members of the Medical Women’s Federation.  She demonstrated anatomy at the London School of Medicine, before going on to become Surgical Registrar at the Royal Free Hospital.
            Later on in life, she became a surgeon at the Marie Curie Cancer Hospital, and was Senior Obstetrician at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.

            In 2004, one of the lecture theatres at the Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, was refurbished in her honour, as a celebration of the role of women in surgery.

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