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Vic women doctors thanked for WWI effort

AAP logoAAP 10/09/2016

Six Melbourne women previously unrecognised for their work as doctors during World War I will finally have their contributions acknowledged thanks to donations from the public.

A specially commissioned plaque honouring the women's work will be unveiled during a commemoration service at Melbourne's Welsh Church on Sunday.

The doctors being recognised are Rachel Champion, Hilda Bull, Mary de Garis, Helen Sexton, Vera Scantlebury and Isabella Younger.

They were among more than 20 female Australian doctors who served in England and throughout Europe during WWI.

The Australian, New Zealand and Canadian governments did not allow women doctors to enlist during the first two years of the conflict before a shortage prompted the Royal Army Medical Corps to let female doctors join in an unofficial capacity.

Many female Australian doctors paid their own way to England to help in the war effort.

Dr Scantlebury and Dr Champion worked as surgeons between 1916 and 1919 at the Endell Street Military Hospital in London's Covent Garden.

The 570-bed hospital was founded by women in 1915 and had a staff of female surgeons, specialists, nurses and orderlies with the exception of a small unit from the army medical corps.

During the war more than 26,000 patients were treated at Endell Street.

The memorial plaque for the doctors is a result of fundraising by the Victorian Medical Women's Society and the Australian Federation of Medical Women.

The organisations hope they will soon be able to fund a sculpture to accompany the plaque.

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