Elspeth Mavor McKechnie

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 09 October 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:873

First woman doctor to reach the rank of RAF air commodore

In a world dominated by men, Elspeth McKechnie was the first woman doctor to reach air rank in the Royal Air Force when she was promoted to air commodore in 1972 and appointed to run the service's Central Medical Establishment in London. It was the culmination of a distinguished medical career in the RAF, punctuated only by 18 months in the fledgling NHS in 1948-9.

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During her service career she was in command of RAF Hospital Cosford, senior medical officer at RAF Halton, and registrar at several bases, including RAF Hospital Werberg (in the former West Germany), the Central Medical Establishment, and RAF Hospital Ely. At Ely she had to deal with members of the army, the American air force, and the local civilian population, in addition to RAF personnel. In 1959 she was charged with closing RAF Weeton, near Blackpool, and soon afterwards she …

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