Dame Annis Gillie was one of the great ladies of medicine, and by that I mean that she had a most unusual dignity and charm. She attracted attention from the moment she entered a room. When young she was tall and very dignified, but as she got older she became very bowed.
She died, aged 84, very much retired and out of the round of hospital services and general practitioner services to which she had contributed so much. She was devoted to her family, especially to her husband Peter Smith who was ill for many years with multiple sclerosis. She nursed and cared for him unsparingly. They had two children; a son and a daughter. The latter was a medical practitioner and died young.
Annis was born at Eastbourne, a daughter of the Manse. She was educated at Wycombe Abbey School and University College Hospital, qualifying in 1925. She entered general practice in West London and remained active until 1963, when she retired to Gloucestershire to look after her husband. She was a Fellow of the College and of the Royal College of General Practitioners, and was given an honorary MD by Edinburgh University. After the College of General Practitioners received its Royal Charter she became its first president; being the only woman to become president.
She was a member of the Central Health Services Council from its inception, and from 1956-70 she chaired the Council’s committee which produced in 1963 the Gillie report on the fieldwork of the family doctor. She was a great champion of women in medicine, and in 1954 was president of the Medical Women’s Federation. From 1950-64 she was a member of the Council of the British Medical Association. She served on the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board, and later on the Oxford Regional Hospital Board for ten years. She received the OBE in 1961, and the DBE in 1968 during her presidency of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
Annis Gillie was quite the best general practitioner in London during the late 1930s and early 1940s, and had practically all the professional women in London on her list. She also had a considerable number of very distinguished men, including Sir Hugh Casson, president of the Royal Academy, and Lord Clark. She knew just how to run this rather difficult and articulate group of patients and had just the right light hand on the reins, knowing exactly when to pull them up sharply and when to let them run. Altogether, her contribution to medicine and general practice was very great, and her influence on women doctors was considerable.
Dame Albertine Winner
[Brit.med.J., 1985,290,1360; Lancet, 1985,1,996; The Times, 16 Apr 1985]