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Elsie Inglis
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Elsie Inglis


Elsie Inglis (1864-1917) was born in India to a father who worked in the Indian Civil service. She had the good fortune to have relatively enlightened parents for the time who considered the education of a daughter as important as that of the son. She trained at the revolutionary "Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women" under Dr Sophie Jex Blake and then under Sir William McEwen at the University of Glasgow. She had qualified as a licentiate of all the Scottish medical schools by 1892 and went to work in London where she was appaled by the standard of care and lack of specialisation in the care of female patients. She returned to Edinburgh in 1894 where she set up a medical practice with a fellow female physician and also opened a maternity hospital as well as a midwifery resource centre for the poor, this later became the Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital. A philanthropist, she often waived the fees owed her and would pay for her patients to recuperate by the sea-side. Her dissatisfaction with the standard of medical care available to women led to her becoming politically active and founding the Scottish Women's Suffragette Federation. Despite her already notable achievements it was her efforts during the First World War which brought her fame. Her Suffragette Federation was active in sending teams to France, Serbia and Salonica as well as Russia and she herself went to Serbia where her presence and work in improving hygiene reduced typhus and other epidemics which had been raging there. In 1915 she was captured and repatriated and upon reaching home she began organising funds for a hospital in Russia and returned in 1916. However she was forced to return to Britain in 1917 as she was suffering from cancer and died on 26 November 1917. Winston Churchill said of her and her nurses "they will shine in history."