Lives remembered: Jean Broughton

 

My mother-in-law Jean Broughton, who died on 11 July 2013, was one of the first women doctors to be trained in the UK, at the Royal Free Hospital in London from 1935-41. At the start of the Second World War, she was working in hospitals in the East End of London until she was called up to the Royal Army Medical Corps to serve in India, where she met her husband, Hanns Friedlander, a Viennese doctor who had fled the Nazis.

She and Hanns married in India.After the war they settled in Manchester, working together as GPs in the inner city districts of Whalley Range, Moss Side and Hulme. They were excited to be in at the start of the National Health Service and to be able to provide free health care for the first time to the people of Manchester.

Born on 31 December 1916, Jean was following in the footsteps of her father, John Broughton, a successful Leicestershire knitwear manufacturer who had kept all his employees on during the Great Depression. It was her father who thought education was crucial for girls, and who made sure his three daughters all had a university education.

After their first surgery was pulled down in the early 1960s in a slum clearance programme, Jean and Hanns got together with other GPs in Manchester to build the first group practice and health centre in the city, Hulme House, funding it themselves. She also provided a medical service to Manchester Children's Department in the 1950s and 1960s, alongside her work in general practice.

After Hanns died in 1969 Jean continued as a GP in Manchester until she retired in 1981. She was an active member of the Medical Womens Federation and president of its Manchester branch. Retiring to Norfolk, she worked as a part-time locum GP in the village where she lived for several more years, completing nearly 50 years in front-line community medicine. She was a voluntary visitor at Wayland Prison in Norfolk until she was 90, and when she delivered meals on wheels few would have guessed she was older than most of the recipients.

Jean is survived by her two daughters, Margaret Douglas and Cathy Norris, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Anthony Douglas

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