A CITY doctor and champion of assisted suicide has died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
Dr Ann McPherson was last night described as an amazing woman by family, patients and Hollywood actor Hugh Grant, who was patron of a charity she founded.
The mother-of-three, who practised in North Oxford for more than 35 years, passed away on Saturday, aged 65.
Earlier this month the outspoken campaigner of the terminally ill’s right to die, was awarded the British Medical Journal’s Communicator of the Year Award.
She picked up the prize for her work in setting up Healthtalkonline, a site which covers 60 different illnesses and health issues and receives two million hits every month.
Mr Grant is the patron and accepted the award on her behalf. He said: “Ann was an amazing woman, doctor, author, campaigner and founder of the inspired healthtalkonline.
“I am so delighted she nagged me into helping with it and I am so sorry for her family, for medicine and for the country that she has gone.”
The grandmother-of-five was born in London, but lived and worked in Oxford for the past 35 years.
She co-wrote the Teenage Health Freak series of books with Dr Aidan Macfarlane, which sold more than one million copies worldwide.
Dr McPherson was also a former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioner’s Adolescent Task Group and a member of the last Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group.
Beth Hale, one of the doctor’s children, said Dr McPherson’s death had left a huge gap.
She said: “Above all, she was a truly wonderful wife, mum and granny.
“Her ability, apparently so effortless, to combine her professional life with her family life should provide inspiration to working women everywhere.
“Many of her happiest times were spent relaxing with her family in the south of France or north Oxford and she was never short of fun ideas and activities for her beloved grandchildren.
“Her death leaves a huge gap in many lives and her husband, three children and five grandchildren, with one on the way, can only hope in some way to do justice to her formidable spirit.”
Dr Debbie Waller, a fellow partner, said Dr McPherson had an almost ‘sixth sense’ when diagnosing patents.
She said: “She was a wonderful GP who always pushed to do the very best for her patients and was a great believer in the NHS.”
Former patient Tessa Kerry, 57, who was treated by Dr McPherson when she lived in Oxford, said without her she would never have discovered she had a serious kidney problem.
Mrs Kerry, who now lives in Dorset, said: “She was an amazing woman. You always felt you could talk to her. Perhaps she was part of a dying age of GPs who made you feel like that.”
Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: “All at Dignity in Dying are saddened by Ann’s death.
“In the two years since she became involved, Ann has done a huge amount for the campaign and she leaves an incredible legacy.
“The fact that she founded HPAD (Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying) – an organisation that now has over 400 members – was an active patron of Dignity in Dying and continued to work tirelessly on other projects close to her heart, all at the late stages of terminal cancer, is a testament to her strength and tenacity.”
Oxford psychiatrist Dr Seymour Spencer has died at the John Radcliffe Hospital aged 91. Dr Spencer had lived in Headington since 1961 and was well-known as a psychiatrist, working at the Warneford Hospital as well as seeing private patients until his retirement in 1995. For a full obituary, please see tomorrow’s Oxford Mail.