Claire Rayner, the former nurse, health journalist, author, agony aunt and patient advocate, died this week in hospital in Harrow north London, after failing to recover fully from intestinal surgery in May.
Despite the many areas and issues she was involved with, Ms Rayner’s link with nursing was always remembered. Likewise Nursing Times will always remember its own link with her.
She trained as a nurse at the Royal Northern and Guy’s Hospitals in London during the 1950s and later specialised as a midwife.
She wrote her first letter to Nursing Times in 1958, on nurses pay and conditions – an issue that seemingly never goes away – before moving on to bigger fish and writing regularly to the Daily Telegraph on nursing and patient related issues.
She was by far the oldest member of the commission, which ran from March 2009 until March this year. However, this did not deter her from taking Mr Brown aside at the commission’s first meeting and making it clear that their findings and conclusions should not be forgotten or ignored.
In particular, she highlighted to the prime minister that she had also sat on the Royal Commission on the Care of the Elderly, whose recommendations on social care funding still remain not acted upon.
In December 2008 Nursing Times had the pleasure of including Ms Rayner in its inaugural Diamond 20 list of the most influential nurses of the past 60 years.
Famous most recently for being the president and “face” of the Patients Association, she was involved with around 50 charities in all.
Royal College of Nursing chief executive Peter Carter said: “The RCN was sorry to hear of the news of the death of Claire Rayner. As well as being a former nurse Claire was throughout her life a tireless campaigner for patient care.
“Claire embodied the values of the NHS – she was fair and patients were at the heart of her work. She will be missed.”
Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy said: “For almost 30 years Claire has devoted much of her time and energy to championing patient issues. She was a figure head and inspiration to us all. She cared deeply that the voice of the patient should be heard and worked tirelessly to ensure patient care issues were given prominence.
“She had a huge positive effect on the nation and she made a real difference to millions of people lives; for the right reasons she was a real fighter for patients – her strength of personality, her character and her very positive approach is the wonderful legacy she has left us at the Patients Association. Claire will be a huge loss to everyone.”