Serbia trip organised to celebrate Edinburgh-born medical heroine

She was among the first generation of British women to qualify as doctors, and the founder of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals based in Edinburgh.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 6:00 am
Dr Elsie Inglis was one of the first British women to qualify as a doctor, and the founder of the Scottish Women's Hospitals based in Edinburgh picture: Supplied

But Dr Elsie Inglis is much more widely celebrated in Serbia, where she served as a medical officer during the First World War, than in Edinburgh where she lived for many years.

This is why a group of proud supporters of Dr Inglis have organised a special trip to Serbia this April to visit the monuments to her, with a local guide familiar with Ms Inglis’ history.

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“I went last year to Serbia and that’s when I realised how many tributes there are to her there. The guide knew all about her, and they celebrate her every year.”

“Yet here in Edinburgh, the Lord Provost’s fund for her statue has stalled with a little over £2,000. Contrast that with the £50 million equivalent in today’s money which Elsie Inglis raised for SWH and their work in France, the Balkans and in Russia.”

They will set off in April for two weeks in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia, also visiting other cultural sites and museums.

“Part of the reason for our trip is to visit the sites where Elsie Inglis and other Scottish Women’s Hospitals doctors and nurses are still commemorated over 100 years since WWI,” said Ms Garwood.

“The fact that the British Embassy in Belgrade is called the Elsie Inglis House is a huge tribute to her and all the Scottish Women’s Hospitals work there.”

In 1914 Dr Inglis founded the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH) voluntary medical units which were sent to support Allied soldiers on the front line in France, Malta, Romania, Russia and Serbia.

Over 1000 women served with the SWH, treating hundreds of thousands of patients were treated.

Dr Inglis became the first woman to be awarded the Order of the White Eagle (first class) by the Crown Prince of Serbia in 1916.

The SWH was disbanded after the war and surplus funds were used to open the Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital in Abbeyhill in 1925.

The facility closed in 1988 when services were transferred to the former Eastern General.