Gertrude Herzfeld

The first practising women surgeon in Scotland

Gertrude Herzfeld was educated in London, and one of the first female surgeons to work in Scotland and the first woman paediatric surgeon. Gertrude studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, qualifying in 1914 with a MBChB degree.  She spent much of her professional career based in Edinburgh, and her early career was marked by her appointment as house surgeon at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children and the Chalmers Hospital shortly after qualifying, making her the first woman to hold the post.

Courtesy of Lothian Health Service Archive LHB8-71-1
Courtesy of Lothian Health Service Archive LHB8-71-1
Gertrude was the first woman to 'take her seat' (become a practising surgeon) in the Royal College of Surgeons. She also worked at the Bruntsfield Hospital for Women and Children and was a surgeon to the Edinburgh Orthopaedic Clinic, which she helped to found. She was also lecturer on childhood surgery at the University of Edinburgh.

A specialist in the fields of paediatrics and gynaecology, Herzfeld’s surgical responsibilities embraced areas which are now specialties of their own including plastic, orthopaedic, abdominal and neonatal work and the treatment of burns and trauma.

Gertrude died in May 1981, at the age of 91; her obituary in the British Medical Journal contained a tribute in which she was lauded as being "a large woman in heart [and] mind" who had "always longed to be a doctor":

Related Articles: