Intended for healthcare professionals


Ann McPherson

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 02 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3424
  1. Charles Warlow
  1. charles.warlow{at}

General practitioner, communicator, and campaigner for assisted dying

Typically exploiting her final misfortune of pancreatic cancer to help others, in July 2009 the general practitioner, writer, and campaigner Ann McPherson wrote an opinion piece to argue that dying patients should be allowed to choose the time and place of their death (BMJ 2009;339:b2827, doi:10.1136/bmj.b2827). She wanted “the possibility of now being able to see dying as something to be respected and celebrated as a finally fulfilling experience rather than a technological failure.”

Many of us understood and even envied her relief that “I no longer have to worry about the next research assessment exercise.” But amazingly she continued to work for another two years. In this time she established and chaired yet another initiative: Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying’s mission is that “terminally ill, mentally competent adults should have the choice of an assisted death, subject to legal safeguards” ( But Ann was not given this choice. She survived breast cancer 16 years ago but died from pancreatic cancer on 28 May.

Health Freak

Ann could have had a fulfilling life as a committed, effective, and much respected Oxford general practitioner, providing her …

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