Charlotte Jones obituary

Other Lives: GP who pioneered family planning services and sought to make childbirth as positive as possible for women

My friend Charlotte Jones, who has died aged 95, was a pioneering GP, an early advocate of family-planning services and an obstetrician who taught doctors and midwives to make childbirth as positive as possible for women, with fewer medical interventions and more involvement of partners.

An only child, Charlotte was born in Vienna and raised in Czechoslovakia. Her father, Stefan Hartstein, an obstetrician and gynaecologist in Bratislava, died when she was seven. Within months of Hitler’s annexation of the Czech Sudetenland in 1938, when Charlotte was 11, she and her mother, Marianne (nee Elbogen), a nurse, sought refuge in the London home of a distant cousin, and Charlotte attended a local grammar school.

Charlotte’s medical studies coincided with the birth of the NHS, in 1948, when she won an exhibition to the Royal Free hospital medical school for women in the capital. After qualifying as a doctor in 1954, she became a registrar in obstetrics at a small maternity hospital in Walthamstow, north-east London. She met her first husband, Anthony Wisdom, a venereologist, while working as a locum obstetric registrar at Mile End hospital (now the Royal London) and they married in 1956 and had four children, before divorcing.

Marriage and motherhood put paid to her ambition to become a consultant, and instead she worked as a locum GP and at school, infant welfare and family planning clinics. In addition to providing contraceptive advice and services – at a time when such things were spoken about only in whispers – she carried out psychosexual counselling and taught nurses, doctors and health visitors about contraception.

She married Alun Jones, an occupational health physician and father of three, in 1966. Five years later the couple moved to Monmouth, south Wales, where they had had a holiday home, and at the age of 55 she retrained in general practice at the University Hospital of Wales. Monmouth had just one GP practice and it would not accept a female doctor, so Charlotte set up her own practice there and ran it successfully until her retirement in 2000.

In 2011, Charlotte played a crucial role in reviving research into a potential treatment for tuberculosis, which had been developed in Prague a century earlier by her grandfather Friedrich Weleminsky. Charlotte tracked down a team of academics at University College London and gave them her grandfather’s paperwork and his cultures. Her cousin Judy Weleminsky, a volunteer microbiologist, is now part of the team researching the treatment.

Alun died in 2005, Charlotte’s daughter, Lucy, in 2009 and her son Olli in 2021. She is survived by her sons Miki and Julian; four grandchildren, Gzi, Elvis, Stella and Jasper; and her stepchildren, Genevieve, Lynne and Crispin.

Lynn May

The GuardianTramp

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