One of Manchester’s most experienced intensive care consultants has told of her pride at becoming the first female doctor to receive a prestigious national award.
Professor Jane Eddleston is Joint Group Medical Director of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and also works as a critical care consultant in Manchester Royal Infirmary.
The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine has just presented its Gold Medal to Professor Eddleston, the first time a female doctor has been given the honour.
The award citation highlighted Professor Eddleston’s contributions in patient care, professional leadership and research, saying that “many working in intensive care medicine today have been influenced by her and many patients and services have benefitted from her vision and drive for improvement”.
Jane, originally from Stirling in Scotland, said that news of the award took her totally by surprise.
She said: “I got an email saying congratulations and that I’d received the award. I had to look at it several times to make sure it was real. This may have been given to me as a personal award but I couldn’t have done it without everyone else who has helped me through my career.
“It was just amazing, especially to know that I was the first female doctor to receive this honour. It was very emotional indeed, especially as Dr Alison Pittard, Dean of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine and Dr Danny Bryden, Vice Dean, who presented me with the medal, are very successful female clinicians as well.”
When Jane studied medicine at Dundee University in the 1980s, 30% of the students were female – now there are slightly more female medical students than male medical students.
Jane said: “There have definitely been massive changes. But the pressures are different now too, and we have to think very carefully about how we can support all young doctors – female and male – to make sure that they can give their best for their patients.”
And Jane believes that ensuring that there is support for clinicians wanting to move into senior leadership is key, so that their voices are heard in decision-making meetings at local, regional and national level.
She added: “I have maintained my clinical practise throughout all my roles, because that’s what gives me the greatest satisfaction, to care for patients. Having an authentic clinical voice helps massively if you are suggesting improvements for patients which have implications for operational issues or finance. At the end of the day, whatever your role in the NHS, you are there for the patient.”