Skip to content

Alumna and Women’s Equality Party deputy leader, Dr Hannah Barham-Brown, joined the Graduate Entry Medicine programme in 2012 after studying English, Theology and Arabic at the University of Durham and completing paediatric nursing training at Northumbria University. 

Over the last few years since leaving St George’s, Dr Barham-Brown has made several media appearances – including to speak about women’s health in Women’s Hour – and written for Metro, The Independent and The Guardian. She has also appeared in several podcasts and acted as a spokesperson for My AFK and The Eve Appeal in her role as an ambassador. She spoke to us about her experience on the Graduate Entry Medicine programme at St George’s, and how it has shaped her career since.  

In 2012, Dr Barham-Brown spent six months as a paediatric staff nurse before leaving to take up a place on the Graduate Entry Medicine programme. Reflecting on her decision to study Graduate Entry Medicine, Dr Barham-Brown shares how the tragic loss of her two younger brothers influenced her decision. “During my final year at the Durham, my brother Theo was born in an Intensive Therapy Unit with Down’s Syndrome and sadly died at 22 months after developing Pneumonia. Some years later, at the age of 16, my brother Gareth – who had dilated cardiomyopathy – also died following a transplant.  

“I had spent a lot of my time on the ward and learnt a lot about the role of clinicians, doctors and nurses and how everyone supported one another. My experience of seeing my brother Theo on the ward, and also seeing the experiences of my mother in hospital as a wheelchair user, strengthened my resolve to study Medicine and do everything I could to provide the best care to patients.” 

Speaking about the transition from a degree in English, Theology and Arabic and roles in Marketing and Communications to Medicine, Dr Barham-Brown says: “I basically moved into the library when I first started! It is definitely an intense course, but it is an environment in which you are very well-supported. The diversity of students on the programme meant that you would never be the only person who had taken a less traditional path into Medicine. The location was also great, because being in South London at a small University meant that it felt like a very close-knit community.” 

In 2015, in her penultimate year of the Graduate Entry Medicine programme, Dr Barham-Brown was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a group of conditions which affects connective tissue. Reflecting on her experience of receiving this diagnosis during her degree, she says, "It was a challenge to adjust to being disabled, but the flexibility that teaching staff offered was a huge help. Looking back, I also think my experience as a disabled person and wheelchair user has made me a better doctor. My own experience has helped me to develop an understanding of the inequalities that people face. ” 

Sharing advice with current students adjusting to a major life change during their degree, she adds, 

“Opening and maintaining lines of communication with the course team is so important, so that you are able to have a conversation about how they can support you. Find out how you can be flexible with rotations and placements to make sure that you get the most from these.” 

During her time at St George’s, Dr Barham-Brown campaigned for the rights of Junior Doctors in a contract dispute, which was the start of her journey as an NHS activist and advocate for women’s equality and increased disability representation. Since then, she has gone on to become the first visibly disabled Deputy Leader of a UK Political Party, as well as being named in the 2018 and 2019 Shaw Trust Power List – a list of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. Last year, she was also named one of HSJ's 100 Most Influential People in Health in 2020 as well as Campaigner of the Year (Transport for All). 

Speaking about how St George’s supported her on this path, she says:

“The teaching staff really encourage you to do things outside of St George’s that you feel passionate about. Being in such a supportive environment helped me discover a whole new path.”

Sharing advice with someone considering studying Graduate Entry Medicine, she adds, “I would advise anyone thinking about applying for a place on the programme to just do it! At St George’s, it’s not just about studying how to be yet another surgeon or physician. It teaches you how many opportunities are available to you.”  

You can read more about Dr Barham Brown’s work and achievements here.  

Find a profileSearch by A-Z