Who was the first British woman president of a Royal Medical College: Obstetricians and Gynaecologists?

HILDA LLOYD 1891 – 1982

In theory the University of Birmingham Medical School admitted women from 1900 although in practice it wasn’t until the First World War that the number of women medical students reached 40%.

One of these women was Hilda Lloyd who qualified as a surgeon in 1920, specializing in obstetrics and gynaecology.

In the 1930s, Hilda was a pioneer in seeking solutions for the difficulties experienced in Birmingham related to poverty, sexually transmitted diseases and illegal abortions.

One of her innovations was the introduction of “flying squads” which combined obstetrical care with the capacity to carry out emergency resuscitation and blood transfusion.

Whilst the majority of each flying squad’s time was spent dealing with deliveries and post-delivery emergencies, they also dealt with complications surrounding abortion. The ability to provide emergency care and transfusions at the scene saved the lives of many women.

Hilda became a lecturer in the medical school and by 1944 had become the first woman professor in the university. Her reputation locally in Birmingham was recognised nationally and in 1949 she was elected the first female President of a Royal Medical College: the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and she remains, to this day, the only female president that college has had.

In 1951 her work was further recognised when she was made a Dame of the British Empire.