No 44: GERTRUDE MARIAN AMALIA HERZFELD
BORN: LONDON, 1 JUNE 1890
• DIED: EDINBURGH, 12 MAY 1981
THE first woman surgeon in Scotland, Herzfeld - the daughter of Austrian immigrants - spent almost all her professional life in Edinburgh, gaining her MBChB degree in 1914. She was house surgeon to Sir Harold Stiles at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, and after wartime posts at the Cambridge Military Hospital and Bolton Royal Infirmary, returned to Scotland in 1920. That year, she became the second female Fellow of the RCSE (the first, Alice Headwards Hunter, did not practice) and the first female honorary assistant surgeon at the Sick Children's Hospital. By 1925, she was full surgeon there, serving for 20 years. From 1920 to 1955 she was also surgeon at the Bruntsfield Hospital for Women and Children, staffed entirely by women. She carried out a wide range of procedures in paediatric and gynaecological surgery, and was noted for her precision and good teaching. Involved in the foundation of the Edinburgh School of Chiropody, she was medical adviser to the Edinburgh Cripple Aid Society.
Gertrude Herzfeld joined the BMA in 1915, chaired the Edinburgh City branch (1960-62), and was National President of the Medical Women's Federation (1948-50). She published widely, in the Lancet (1920) and elsewhere, on such diverse topics as rupture of the intestine, uterine prolapse, congenital talipes (club foot), and malformations of the newborn. Unmarried, she spent her retirement in Edinburgh and died a few weeks before her 91st birthday, having blazed the trail for female surgeons in Scotland.
• From the Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women (Edinburgh University Press; www.eup.ed.ac.uk