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Margaret E M O’Flynn (Foley)

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 27 October 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6324
  1. Fiona Foley Croft

Margaret O’Flynn (née Boulton, known professionally as Foley) devoted most of her career to the development and improvement of contraception, the sexual health of women, and management of the menopause, starting at a time when the level of such services was poor. She ultimately succeeded in delivering vastly improved facilities and services in Portsmouth and south east Hampshire. In 1970 she was awarded her FRCOG, becoming, with John Foley, the first husband and wife fellows of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Margaret was born in January 1920 in Talke of the Hill, north Staffordshire, the first of two daughters of Ernest and Edith Boulton. She went to school at Orme Girls School and eventually became head girl. She was inspired by her headmistress, Miss Sprunt, to consider medicine and at 17 took her first MB in 1937. Having been advised by her mother to take off her gloves to show off her surgeon’s hands, and possibly displaying other more important attributes at her interview, she was offered a place at King’s College Hospital Medical School, where she started her second MB. At the declaration of war in 1939, her father, a former grenadier who saw active service in the first world war, encouraged her to contribute during the summer vacation to the war effort at North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary. In September 1939 King’s despatched their students to Glasgow to put them in a place of relative safety, and here she completed her 2nd MB. Returning to King’s in London, she and other students lived in converted wards on the top floor of the hospital. Each time a siren went off, she and other students reported for duty, fire watching on the roof, with long brooms to push …

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