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At the heart of general practice since 1960

48. Dr Iona Heath

Elder stateswoman

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Past RCGP president Dr Iona Heath retired from her inner-city practice in north-west London, in 2010, but is still a powerful voice in UK general practice.

She was among the first to criticise the scheme to pay practices £55 for each new dementia diagnosis, saying she thought the proposal was ‘an intellectual and ethical travesty’.

And many of her ideas on the benefits of ‘doing less’ are coming back into vogue as a reaction to the increasing interventions GPs are being asked to make in otherwise healthy people.

‘I am very interested in this idea that we’re doing too much and don’t know when to stop treating people,’ she says.

Since 2013 Dr Heath has helped organise a series of international scientific conferences called ‘Preventing Overdiagnosis’, speaking most recently in Sydney, Montevideo and Washington.

And she has written a book, likely to be out next year, on what is wrong with medicine at the moment.

She is careful not to comment too much on the current woes facing her GP colleagues due to her lack of recent first-hand experience, although she does say it is ‘awful’.

But although Dr Heath speaks rarely, many GPs are always interested in what she has to say.

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