Local women in medicine network seeks charity recognition in awards

ENTRANT Dr Kate Stannard

AN ORGANISATION aimed at improving women’s medical careers to ensure they can thrive in any field they want, is one of the latest Times Business Awards entrants in the Charity of the Year category.

Co-founded by two consultants at the Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW), the Women in Medicine International Network (WIMIN) was founded in response to a steep drop-off in women’s representation in medicine
after qualification.

They quote research showing that 65 per cent of newly-qualified doctors are female – yet this falls to under 30 per cent within hospital medicine.

“The Women in Medicine International Network (WIMIN) was a long time in the making, born out of lots of frustrations with the status quo,” one of the co-founders, Kate Stannard, told the Times.

“We do address a wide range of issues – good and bad – as our objective is to provide a platform and voice for women to address difficult issues and also to celebrate our successes.”

A major focus for the not-for-profit organisation is its conferences, where women can access training across specialisations and levels of care, from primary care professionals in general practice to specialists in tertiary care.

“We feel this approach is more effective – rather than single speciality meetings, as that doesn’t reflect the way we work,” said Dr Stannard. “No doctor works in isolation.”

Meanwhile, the conferences also offer non-medical training and advice to improve female doctors’ careers, covering themes from employment law and pensions to discrimination, race and
their own health.

Proceeds from conferences, and sponsorship from the legal firm Leigh Day, are reinvested in conferences, a charity helping girls and young women in Ghana, and now a new cash prize.

The WIMIN conference in Tunbridge Wells this September will present the first Liz Sizer Memorial Award, aimed at supporting a doctor in training, as well as highlighting how serious
burn-out can be for women
in medicine.

Dr Stannard said: “Dr Elizabeth Sizer and myself first met at the former Kent and Sussex hospital in 1999. I was a first-year registrar and she was a senior registrar.

“Liz was an amazing doctor and was very supportive to me during exams and she was also great fun to go out with.

“Yet wind forward to 2016, and after getting a prestigious consultant job in Kings College Hospital Liver ICU and having had two babies, Liz was found dead in a park, having committed suicide. An absolute tragedy.

“I feel Liz would have been very supportive of WIMIN and maybe if such an organisation had been around then it might have prevented her death.

“Who knows, but the feedback we are receiving from ‘burnt out’ women in medicine does indicate that we are already making a difference,” said Dr Stannard.

Charity of the Year is one of the categories in the Times Business Awards. Find the category for your business and apply at: timesbusinessawards.co.uk

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