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Scottish Women's Hospitals

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Scottish Women's Hospitals


"Hi! My name is Kirsty Earley from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and today I want to talk to you about the Scottish Women's Hospitals. The Scottish Women's Hospitals were a group of 14 hospitals that were set up during the First World War and they were run completely by women. They were founded by Dr Elsie Inglis who was a Scottish doctor and suffragist.

For a long time in history women weren't allowed to practice medicine and it wasn't until the late 1800s that women gained the right to be able to train in medicine and surgery. So we started to see the first registered female medical practitioners in the 19th century. By the turn of the 20th century, it was becoming a little more common for women to go into medicine, but there was still a lot of prejudice against them.

When the First World War came around, women wanted to help with the war effort, but there was very limited ways in which they could do so. Inglis wanted to provide medical services for the men that were risking their lives for their country. She approached the Royal Army Medical Corps and said, 'I want to start hospitals for you.' But they refused her request and told her to go home. So she offered her services to the Allied Forces, and it was the French and Serbian governments that took up her offer. By the end of the First World War there would be 14 medical units across Europe that were fully staffed and fully run by women. They would then go on to save hundreds of thousands of patients' lives.

Many notable women volunteered for the Scottish Women's Hospitals- there was Elsie Inglis, there was also Annie Allan and Louisa Jordan. At the College we have a photo album that belonged to Annie Allan, who was one of the nurses that worked at Salonica. These photos are so precious and give great insight into what it was like to work for such a cause during the First World War."