b.20 July 1886 d.12 January 1952
MB BS Lond(1911) MD Lond(1913) MRCP(1915) FRCP(1935)
Hazel Cuthbert was born in London, the second of the six children of Goymour Cuthbert, an architect, and his wife, Marion Linford. She was educated at a private school at Eastbourne, and with the financial help of an uncle entered the London (Royal Free Hospital) School of Medicine in 1904. Among various resident appointments that of resident surgical and medical officer at the Children’s Hospital, Birmingham, was to lay the foundation of her chosen career.
In 1916 she was appointed acting assistant physician to her parent hospital. Because of the war-time shortage of staff she was able to gain considerable clinical and teaching experience; the result was her appointment in 1919 as the Hospital’s first woman physician. In this same year she became assistant physician to the Shadwell (later the Queen Elizabeth) Hospital for Children. In 1926 she was faced with a difficult decision; the resignation of both senior physicians coincided with the opening of the Riddell ward for the establishment of a new children’s department, so that she could become either senior physician or children’s physician. She chose to be the latter.
With her flair for organisation, clinical skill, wide knowledge of social and preventive medicine and understanding of the needs of children, she very soon made a happy and efficient department. Her tall figure, her dignified bearing, her penetrating blue eyes and her dislike of small talk could make her seem disconcerting and difficult to approach; in reality she was a serene, shy personality of great charm, whose stimulating teaching and constructive criticism brought out the best in every student.
For some years she was chairman of the medical committee and from 1935 to 1938 vice-dean. When the Second World War made it necessary to post students to the Three Counties Hospital at Arlesley she became acting-dean and resident physician. By conscientious devotion she was able to bring a cheerful, home-like atmosphere to a hospital with rather bleak surroundings. But this work took its toll; ill health forced her resignation in 1946, and for the next six years she faced a steadily losing battle with great courage.
In 1916 she married Dr Alexis Chodak-Gregory; they had one son who qualified in medicine.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1952, 1, 278; Lancet, 1952, 1, 218.]
(Volume V, page 71)
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