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Carole Malone column: More to GP death than the NHS.

Byline: Carole Malone

IT'S tragic that GP Dawn Harris took her own life. Her husband Michael is devastated, as are her family and friends. But I'm sorry I cannot accept that this previously "energetic and vibrant" young woman hanged herself solely because of the pressures of working in today's NHS.

I can't begin to imagine how frustrating it must be for a dedicated doctor in 2003's NHS. But however hard it is, it's still no reason or justification to kill oneself. Dawn Harris's sister Diana gave us a clue as to what might have happened: "She always wanted to make everything perfect and whatever she did she never thought it was good enough. When you're involved with caring for people you feel responsible for their happiness not just their health."

And therein I suspect, lay the problem for Dawn Harris. No doctor on earth can be expected to be responsible for their patients' happiness. As for wanting everything to be perfect - well if ever there was a profession in which perfection doesn't even begin to figure, it's medicine. Doctors see more death, illness, unfairness, and frailty than almost any other profession on Earth. If their aim is perfection they are not only doomed to fail, but they can never be any use as a doctor. If perfection was Dawn Harris's goal she should have chosen a different profession because she wasn't helping her patients or herself by striving for the impossible. If doctors killed themselves every time they got depressed or stressed-out about their job the morgue would be full of dead doctors and, no matter how bad the NHS is, it must not be used as the whipping boy for everything that ails the people working within it.

The awful truth is that Dawn Harris had her own demons to fight - and they weren't just stress-induced by the NHS.

Either way, her death is a tragedy.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 10, 2003
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