Women in medicine: Helen Stokes-Lampard and Mollie McBride

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The Women in medicine project showcases a number of today’s leading female clinicians and the women from the history of medicine who have inspired them. 

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard is chair of council of the Royal College of General Practitioners, serving as political and public head of the college through to 2019.

A graduate of St George’s Medical School, London, Helen quickly determined on a career in general practice. Having successfully completed her GP training in inner-city Birmingham, she took up post as a part-time principal at The Cloisters Medical Practice and simultaneously started at the University of Birmingham as an academic fellow. She has held roles in clinical practice, research and teaching that she continues to combine to the present time.

Having completed a PhD, Dr Stokes-Lampard accepted the post of clinical director of the Primary Care Trials Unit at the University of Birmingham, where, since 2010, she has been head of the academic GP trainee programme and head of academic community-based medicine teaching across the whole of undergraduate medical teaching.

Dr Mollie McBride was a wise, courageous and pragmatic woman whose energy and desire to make changes to benefit the whole NHS are as relevant today as when she was embarking on her career. She led by example and we are all the richer for knowing more about her.

Helen Stokes-Lampard on her inspiration Mollie McBride

Dr Mary ‘Mollie’ McBride (1931–2013) was a career-long GP of great integrity, inspiring others through precedent, and able to make the case for primary care at the very highest levels.

Born on The Wirral, Mary McBride, known as ‘Mollie’, studied medicine at the University of Liverpool, qualifying in 1954 as one of only nine women in a year of 100 students.

She entered general practice immediately, first in rural Cheshire, then helped to establish the first modern health centre in Chester. Throughout her time as a GP, she combined married life and motherhood with a range of other roles.

Mollie served as a member of the Mersey Regional Health Authority, an examiner for the Royal College of General Practitioners, and a member of the local medical committee of the British Medical Association.

In 1989, during a period of upheaval in general practice, Dr McBride was elected the first female honorary secretary of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Her 5 years in post are remembered for the diligence and consideration with which she gathered members’ concerns and the effectiveness with which she communicated them.

Following the death of her husband, in 1990 Mollie made good on a long-held, shared aspiration, moving from Chester to work in one of the most deprived communities in London. Keen to show how social inequality impacted lives, she was appointed to the Tomlinson Committee, which proved influential in shaping healthcare services in the capital.

A member of the Medical Women’s Federation for over 30 years, Mollie McBride was its honorary secretary from 1998 to 2000.