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19. Dr Iona Heath



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Dr Iona Heath may be stepping down from her role as president of the RCGP in November, but our panel say she will remain an inspirational role model for the GP profession.

One described Dr Heath as ‘amazing’, adding: ‘Whenever she talks, she spellbinds her audience and always has the facts and knowledge to back up what she says.’

Another said: ‘She is one of my heroines. If I look at all of the GPs who have been most inspirational – alive or dead – she is on that list.’

Dr Heath was a GP in Kentish Town, north London, from 1975 until 2010 when she retired from practice and took up the largely ceremonial position of RCGP president.

She is internationally renowned for her writing on the ethics and core values of general practice.

She gave the prestigious Royal College of Physicians’ Harveian Oration last October, highlighting the importance of the doctor-patient relationship and warning of the danger of categorising patients without taking sufficient account of their personal experience.

In the oration, she said: ‘The longer I work in general practice, the more sceptical I become about the labels and diagnostic categories that we use all the time. Individual patients with diabetes or asthma, multiple sclerosis or cancer, are so different from one another and seem to experience their diseases so differently that I have sometimes wondered about the usefulness of the label.’

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