Tunbridge Wells plays host to a major medical conference

CONFERENCE DELEGATES: (Pictured left to right): Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, Yuta Nyemitei-Addo, Prof Carrie Newlands, Dr Nighat Arif, Dr Olamide Dada from Melanin Medics and WIMIN co-founder Dr Kate Stannard

An international women’s medical conference was held in Tunbridge Wells last week to a sold-out audience of doctors from across the country.

The WIMIN (Women in Medicine International Network) Late Summer Meeting 2023 took place on September 28 and 29 at The Spa Hotel, Tunbridge Wells, with 125 delegates travelling across the UK to the town for the conference.

The event, which was opened by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust CEO Miles Scott, included talks from renowned speakers including, menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson and Professor Carrie Newlands who co-authored the recent landmark survey on sexual harassment, assault and rape of women in surgery which was published in the British Journal of Surgery (as previously reported in Times September 20).

Speakers also discussed other pertinent topics in medicine – from the gender pay gap and inequality, trailblazing women in medicine and pension advice. The two-day long event also included wellbeing yoga sessions and spa time.

WIMIN co-founder Dr Kate Stannard, who is a consultant anaesthetist at Tunbridge Wells Hospital told the Times: “Our mission is to modernise medical learning so doctors from all specialties come together to learn from each other with a special emphasis on women as doctors and as patients – as discrimination against each still persists.”

Founded in 2019, WIMIN is a forum for women in medicine to share knowledge and discuss difficult topics affecting their profession, such as sexual discrimination, gender bias and mental health challenges.

“Professor Carrie Newlands presented the findings from her national survey looking at sexual misconduct in surgery and Dame Jane Dacre, who worked with Carrie on some of the matter, also presented the evidence that women in medicine earn less than their male counterparts and the gender pay gap is still very much alive – another subject that urgently needs addressing.”

Dr Stannard revealed that during the course of the two-day conference other key speakers included Dr Bill Kirkup who presented the Kirkup Review looking into issues at East Kent Maternity Services.

“We discussed what kind of strategies could try and halt this never-ending cycle of failing mothers in labour,” added Dr Stannard.

“Kate Beed presented the Liz Sizer Memorial Award in memory of her sister Dr Liz Sizer who tragically committed suicide. The prize money for research projects undertaken by doctors in training was donated by Kate and Liz’s father Gerry Sizer.

“The prize went to doctors from Addenbrookes Hospital who had a project supplying bone conduction headsets to help deaf children in Malawi continue in education being able to hear. They are now donating the money to the Malawi project to buy more headsets,” explained Dr Stannard.

She also added that all speakers spoke free of charge and waived their travel expenses in support of WIMIN’s event and that the organisation now includes a new student representative, Yuta Nyemitei-Addo, from the Kent Medway Medical School.

Local businesses donated their time and talents, with artist Elaine Gill illustrating a map of Tunbridge Wells free of charge for attendees to use while in the town.

“WIMIN also supports ASIGE, a charity in Ghana that supports female empowerment and educational rights,” added Dr Stannard.

The next meeting will be held next year at Cambridge University on September 12 and 13 2024.

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