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Spotlight on our innovative women International Women's Day

Friday 8 March 2024 marks International Women's Day, where we want to celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness about discrimination and take action to drive gender parity.

International Women's Day belongs to everyone, everywhere and this year's campaign theme is Inspire Inclusion.

When we inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, we forge a better world, and when women themselves are inspired to be included, there's a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment.

Collectively, let's forge a more inclusive world for women.

In following the theme for this year's campaign, we want to shine a light on some of the innovative women in our region's healthcare throughout history, from setting up health advisory clinics, to founding the first general medical practice in Newcastle.


Dr Dorothea Sinton, 1899 - 1987

Dr Dorothea Sinton qualified as a doctor in 1923 at Liverpool University, moved to Tyneside and set up a string of women’s advisory clinics which gave health and contraceptive advice.

She believed passionately that women in poorer parts of the city who were raising large families or were forced to work after their husbands had been killed in war needed support.

She was a pioneer of family planning and an advocate for the provision of free medical advice for the women of Newcastle. She fought for equal rights to education and championed the role of women doctors.


Miriam Stoppard

Miriam, Lady Hogg OBE known professionally by her former married name Miriam Stoppard, is an English medical doctor, journalist, author and television presenter.

After qualifying as a doctor, Stoppard worked at the Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary and specialised in dermatology as a senior registrar at Bristol Royal Infirmary. She became a research director and then managing director in the pharmaceutical industry for Syntex. 


Ethel Mary Nucella Williams, 1863 - 1948

Ethel Williams was the first female doctor in Newcastle upon Tyne, and in 1906, she became the first woman to found a general medical practice in the city, where she worked alongside Dr Ethel Bentham.

In 1917, she co-founded the Northern Women's Hospital, which is now the Nuffield Health Clinic on Osborne Road. Ethel was also one of the initial members of the Medical Women's Federation. She was also Secretary of the Newcastle Women's Liberal Association.


Professor Alison Murdoch

Professor Alison Murdoch has become internationally renowned as a fertility doctor who has helped thousands of people become parents. When she completed her gynaecology training, she was told she would never lead a department 'because she was female'. She has since set up the maternity service in the Royal Victoria Infirmary in the 1980s, and in 1999 Alison moved the department to the International Centre for Life (Life).

Dr Irene Ighodaro, 1916–1995

Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dr Ighodaro came from an elite West African family. After nursing her mother through a terminal illness, she decided to pursue a career within healthcare. Irene studied medicine at the University of Durham from 1938 to 1944 and was reportedly one of only three women in a class of sixty.

During the war, she manned the university’s telephone exchange, became a member of the decontamination squad, and treated war casualties. Irene became the first West African-born woman doctor in Britain and decided that gynaecology would be the best route for her.

She later worked as a house officer at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (1944-45) before she managed her brother’s private practice whilst he assisted the Colonial Office in West Africa (January 1945- September 1946). She continued her work as a pioneering social reformer and medical practitioner, and was awarded an MBE in 1958.

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