On the outbreak of the First World War, Dr. Elsie Inglis suggested that women's medical units should be allowed to serve on the Western Front. However, the War Office, rebuffed with the words, "My good lady, go home and sit still." Inglis now took the idea to the Scottish Federation of Women's Suffrage Societies, which agreed to form a hospitals committee. The Common Cause, the journal of the National Union of Suffrage Societies, also published a plea for funds and she was able to establish the Scottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service (SWH).
A group of wealthy suffragettes, including Janie Allan, decided to fund the Women's Hospital Corps. Louisa Garrett Anderson joined forces with Flora Murray to run a hospital in Claridge Hotel in Paris. In February 1915 Anderson and Murray took charge of the Endell Street Military Hospital in London. Anderson was chief surgeon and the hospital treated 26,000 patients before it closed in 1919.