A proud history
The University of Birmingham has a proud history of pushing for positive changes in the care for women and babies during pregnancy and childbirth.
In 1943 Sir Leonard Gregory Parsons (then Dean of the Medical Faculty at Birmingham, and member of the GMC, as Councillor of the Royal College of Physicians and as medical officer for the Ministry of Health for the Midland Region) lamented the loss of 43,000 neonatal lives each year in the UK, mainly as a result of asphyxia, birth injury, prematurity and infections. He deplored the general neglect of life by British paediatricians and emphasised the fact that the mother and baby formed a biological unit whose interests should never be separated. Two years later, in 1945, Parsons wrote in the foreword to Dr Victoria Mary Crosse’s Prematurity: “This book, which is unique in British literature, will prove invaluable to obstetricians, paediatricians, general practitioners and nurses, and if the advice given by Dr. Crosse is put into practice on anything like a considerable scale the long overdue reduction in neonatal mortality will have begun.” In memory of him, the Chair of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University is named after him.
Dr Dame Hilda Nora Lloyd was the first woman to be elected as president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1949 and in doing so, became the first female president of any UK medical royal college. After studying for her initial MBChB degree with us, she also started her academic career at the University of Birmingham as a resident in obstetrics and gynaecology. Dame Hilda Lloyd pioneered the obstetrical ‘flying squad’ which were crucial in saving the lives of mothers and babies, particularly in deprived areas of Birmingham where she was particularly concerned with STDs and illegal abortions. She also founded the Women’s Visiting Gynaecological Club, which encouraged women to enter the speciality and provided support and mentorship to encourage new female clinicians. The Dame Hilda Lloyd Network is run from the University in her honour.