Dame Beulah Bewley obituary

Physician who played a key role in improving the place of female doctors in Britain’s medical establishment

Beulah Bewley, who has died aged 88, reached the top of the medical profession and cleared a path for other female doctors to follow. As treasurer of the General Medical Council (1992-99), she encouraged the organisation to take on more women – and lobbied council members of royal medical colleges to increase their previously insignificant female intake.

Yet Bewley’s career only really took off after she was 40 – by which time she had five children under 11 – when she applied to go on a new MSc course in social medicine at the London School of Hygiene, run by the celebrated Professor Jerry Morris. Her research project on smoking among primary school children – which made the link between cigarettes, poor attainment and lung disease – was later expanded for a medical degree. It led to a salaried post at St Thomas’ hospital.

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