Dr Anna-Maria Rollin: Lost in the ether: missing perspectives within anaesthesia | Association of Anaesthetists

Dr Anna-Maria Rollin: Lost in the ether: missing perspectives within anaesthesia

Dr Anna-Maria Rollin: Lost in the ether: missing perspectives within anaesthesia

Dr Anna-Maria Rollin

Dr Anna-Maria Rollin MBE is a retired consultant anaesthetist. She was born in Hungary in 1946 and grew up in Zimbabwe. She came to London in 1965 to study medicine at Guy's Hospital. In 1977 she started work at Epsom Hospital and remained there until she retired in 2011. Although women were in the minority for much of her training and career, she doesn't feel that she experienced any particular barriers. What might now be seen as sex discrimination was "of its time". She was married to Dr Henry Rollin, forensic psychiatrist and Deputy Superintendent at Horton Hospital, Epsom, who died in 2014. Dr Rollin has an honorary contract at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust, is a GMC Associate and a chief invigilator for the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board. She has served as Vice-President of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, President of the Section of Anaesthesia of the Royal Society of Medicine and is a Professional Standards Advisor for the Royal College of Anaesthetists. In 2014 she was awarded an MBE for her services to anaesthesia.

Listen to the audio recording or read the transcription of the interview.


Time code (approximately)
Point of interest
Dr Rollin talks about her early life in Budapest, her parents who were central European Jews, and how her family were smuggled from Hungary to Rhodesia by the CIA.
Her early interest in medicine and being told that medicine wasn't for girls.
University in Cape Town during the apartheid era, doing "a little stirring" and acquiring a police record.
Coming to England in 1965 to study medicine at Guy's Hospital, London.
First impressions of London in the '60s and the "Victorian" uniforms at Guy's.
Number of women students in her year at Guy's.
Women teachers and role models.
Women being in the minority, being the "queen bee" having a "hive".
Guy's being the last medical school to admit women.
Story of being houseman to a urologist who was adamant that women were not suited to medicine.
How women at Guy's were treated differently to men.
Story of her dress being unzipped by a professor.
Story of a paediatrician's behaviour towards a young male patient which would get him struck off if it happened today.
Reasons for deciding to become an anaesthetist.
Starting anaesthetics training at Guy's in 1970 and being "chucked in at the deep end.”
Scarcity of women anaesthetists and the first woman consultant at Guy's (Penny Boulton Hewitt).
Unconscious bias, what might have been perceived as barriers to women were seen by men as kindness towards them.
Qualifying as an anaesthetist in 1970 and being appointed consultant in 1977.
The assumption that she would not want to become a teaching hospital consultant because by then she was married with a child, and how she started work in Epsom Hospital where she stayed for 36 years.
How the standards there [Epsom Hospital] were quite low but she and two colleagues turned the place around.
Barriers encountered when trying to make changes at Epsom.
Requesting to join the Association of Paediatric Anaesthetists and being turned down.
The effect of working hours and unpredictable lifestyle on family life, "Supper was an hour after I arrived home, regardless of when", support from her husband Dr Henry Rollin.
Retirement from the NHS in 2011.
Professional activities since retirement.
Thoughts on the qualities that women bring to anaesthesia, "We're often more meticulous, or more obsessional.”
The proportion of women represented in anaesthesia, including research and leadership positions, compared with women in medicine generally.
Advantages of being a woman in the specialty, "I've very possibly had more fun… It was more fun to flirt with the prof than to not.”
Assumptions made by patients that she was a nurse, and her feelings about that, "So what?" 
Story about Muslim women whose husbands refused to let them see male staff.
Reflections on what she has enjoyed most about her role.
Being awarded an MBE in 2014 and her feelings about that.
The highlights of her career.
Worst moments ("crashing" a patient).
Positive changes that have come about for women in the field of medicine.
Advice for women thinking of becoming anaesthetists.
Reflections on being a woman in the speciality, being the "queen bee.”