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Violet Lesley Lutwyche and Vivien Ursula LutwycheWilfrid Seymour ColtartK R “Claude” DempsterMarcia HallHarold Witcomb Everley JonesMargaret Elizabeth Lace (née Morgan)Eric Taylor MurrayAlan George ShermanJohn Jeffrey ShipmanAllan Beaumont Swarbreck

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 04 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:286

Violet Lesley Lutwyche and Vivien Ursula Lutwyche

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Violet (pictured left), a former medical superintendent at St Barnabas, Ntlaza, Transkei, South Africa (b near Cambridge 1907; qCambridge/Royal Free 1938; MRCS), died on 12 March 2001. Her younger sister Ursula (pictured right), a former consultant chest physician at Epping and Harlow hospitals (b Great Shelford, Cambridge, 1910; q Cambridge/Royal Free 1942; DCH, FRCP), died from cerebrovascular disease 12 hours later on 13 March. Ursula had looked after Violet, or Dr Peter as she was known, uncomplainingly for the previous nine years.

After qualifying, both sisters worked at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital, London. Dr Peter went on to work in Nottingham before going out to St Barnabas Mission Hospital in 1946 to give her services unpaid. In 1948 she went to Uganda to learn paediatric surgery. During her time at St Barnabas, it flourished as a hospital with a busy outpatient department and four clinics, one 40 miles distant. Transport consisted of an old ex-army ambulance. Travelling distances over rutted tracks, through thick mud if it was wet and clouds of dust if it was dry, needed skill and physical endurance. At the clinic Peter might find 200 to 300 patients waiting to be seen; mothers with sick children would make a two to three day journey to get help. Occasionally she had assistance to manage the heavy workload, but sometimes she would be running the hospital singlehanded, with as little as three to four hours sleep a night. Inpatient numbers increased, nursing staff increased, grants were applied for and received, including the governor general's War Memorial Fund. The Cape Province Health Department gave approval for rebuilding, and with the great financial generosity of Peter, her sister, and their cousin, the new hospital became a reality and soon became famous throughout the region. It was such a joy for …

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