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Interview – Caroline Overton

Dr Caroline Overton is a consultant gynaecologist at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, and has contributed to the RCOG in many ways over a number of years, assisting in guidance and serving as a media spokesperson.

She has created many resources for patients that are widely circulated and respected, making a significant impact on the field of gynaecology.


How did you first become involved with the RCOG and why?

Caroline OvertonMy first involvement with the RCOG was being a part of the Patient Information Committee in 2003 which is responsible for producing evidence-based information for women, their families and friends to make informed choices about the care they receive.


What motivated and inspired you to work with the RCOG?

When I was a registrar, there wasn't much information around endometriosis written specifically for patients. I had written a "woman's guide to endometriosis" specifically for women with endometriosis back in 2002, and felt passionately that women should receive well-written, well-informed patient information.


Did anyone inspire you to work within women's healthcare?

When I was a medical student at the Royal Free Hospital doing the Obstetrics attachment, it was one of my ladies who said that I had made a real difference to her during her labour. It was her comment that inspired me to go in to obstetrics & gynaecology.


How do you feel that your work with the RCOG has improved women's health care?

My work with the RCOG has helped in the provision of well written, well informed patient information on nearly every topic in obstetrics and gynaecology.


What are some of your most memorable moments at the RCOG?

Among my most memorable moments at the RCOG were getting my Part 2 MRCOG exam results and attending the FRCOG ceremony, these were really special landmarks in my career.


Who are some interesting people you have met along the way?

The RCOG is full of inspiring people. For me specifically, these include Melanie Davies my supervisor and career-long friend, Charnjit Dhillon and Abid Shah, who both worked in the Clinical Governance and Standards Departments in 2011, and Shakira Rodrigues a Conference Co-ordinator I worked with in 2017. Lisa Xue has also inspired me greatly, she is the unsung hero of the Markland Library.


How important is it to encourage women to take a role in their own health care – empowering them to make decisions and have a voice?

It's what we are all about at the RCOG and it is the sole reason that we are here. This has been the major motivator in my career and all the work I have done to this date, so yes, it's very important!


This year will see the first women's health strategy created. How important do you think this is? What impact could it have?

This will be incredibly important. Gynaecology is shrinking. I have seen the number of gynaecology beds within a hospital reduce from 48 as a registrar to 12 as a consultant. No-one could imagine a Hospital without general surgery, but Gynaecology is seen as "benign" and possibly even as unimportant. A women's health strategy creates a list of priorities for women's health care enabling the RCOG to target its energies, ultimately achieving better healthcare for women.


What is your one wish for future improvements in women's health care?

A cure for endometriosis and the cessation of suffering for women with endometriosis.