Women in medicine: Ramani Moonesinghe and Katharine Lloyd-Williams

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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 Ramani Moonesinghe is a consultant in anaesthetics and critical care medicine at University College London (UCL) Hospitals.

She combines her clinical work with roles as the pan-London programme director for academic trainee anaesthetists, a Health Foundation improvement science fellow, director of the Health Services Research Centre at the Royal College of Anaesthetists, and the associate national clinical director for elective care at NHS England.

Ramani qualified at UCL Medical School, where she was president of the medical students’ union and became the first medic ever to be made a life member of UCL Union, in honour of her extracurricular activities.  

Passionate about embedding research and improvement into the lives of all healthcare professionals, Professor Moonesinghe continues to teach and research extensively, and has 12 current or completed doctoral students.

Kitty Lloyd-Williams led a life of outstanding contribution. A highly respected clinician, she will be remembered for her transformational leadership of the London School of Medicine for Women as it became the Royal Free Medical School, admitting men and women on equal terms, an enormous step toward parity in the medical professions.

Ramani Moonesinghe on her inspiration Katharine Lloyd-Williams

Dr Katharine Lloyd-Williams (1896–1973) was a highly respected anaesthetist and brilliant educationalist, who oversaw the creation of the UK’s first fully co-educational medical school at the Royal Free Hospital.

Excelling both academically and at sports during her school years, Katharine Georgina Lloyd-Williams (known to family and close friends as ‘Kitty’) worked first as a physical education teacher, then qualified as a physiotherapist. Following a period at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, she entered the London School of Medicine for Women, graduating in 1926 and receiving an MD from the University of London in 1929.

Appointed as a resident anaesthetist at the Royal Free Hospital, she would remain at the institution for her entire career, combining her many roles there with positions at other London hospitals and work in general practice.

Made dean of the London School of Medicine for Women in 1945, she oversaw its transformation into the Royal Free Medical School, the first medical school completely open to male and female students, ultimately under uniform terms and conditions.

In addition to clinical and teaching duties, Dr Lloyd-Williams served in the honorary capacity of dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of London, was a member of the General Medical Council and president of the Women’s Medical Federation (1958–9), among many other roles.

True to the varied interests of her youth, Katharine was an accomplished musician and an avid gardener, and travelled extensively. She was awarded a CBE in 1956.