Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Former nurse Claire Rayner dies with warning on NHS reform

  • 10 Comments

The patients’ rights campaigner Claire Rayner, who died on Monday, told her relatives she wanted her last words to be: “Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I’ll come back and bloody haunt him.”

The former president of the Patients Association never recovered from emergency intestinal surgery she had in May this year and died in hospital near her home in Harrow, north-west London.

Rayner started her career in the National Health Service working as a nurse.

Des Rayner, her husband of 53 years, said: ”Through her work she helped hundreds of thousands of people and doubtless, by talking frankly about the importance of safe sex in the 80s when almost nobody else would discuss it, helped to save thousands of lives.

“Through her own approach to life she enabled people to talk about their problems in a way that was unique.

“Right up until her death she was being consulted by both politicians and the medical profession about the best way to provide the health services the nation deserved and nothing mattered to her more than that. Her death leaves a vacancy which will not be filled.”

Katherine Murphy, association chief executive, said: “I would like to join with everyone involved in the Patients Association in expressing my deep sadness at the death of our much loved president, Claire Rayner.

“For almost 30 years Claire has devoted so much of her time and energy to championing patients’ issues. She was a figurehead and inspiration to us all.

“She cared so deeply that the voice of the patient should be heard and worked tirelessly to ensure that care issue were given prominence in all health matters. She was a wonderful person, an inspiration to us all and she will be missed so much by everyone.”

  • 10 Comments

Readers' comments (10)

  • Good for Claire. How sad she has died. My thoughts go out to the family she leaves behind. Claire could say what she felt before she died, unlike a lot of us in her beloved NHS at the moment. Claire has the right feelings, as do many of us, that Mr Cameron is suspiciously on a pathway to destroy the NHS and replace it too soon with another 'private' system without proper long term planning for sustainable realistic healthcare for ALL the nation and not just the privileged few.
    I actually met Claire in the 1980's when I was having a 'break from nursing' at a time when the last Conservative government were causing mayhem and lack of morale in the NHS (the precursor of many of today's issues). I was working for a film production company interested in dramatising one of Claire's books (yes, she was a fiction authoress too!). We went to her house and she was delightful and welcoming. She relished discussing my nursing career she was inspirational and so interesting. She viewed herself still and always a nurse. She took her 'agony aunt' work very seriously and was highly organised and thorough in her research around people's problems. As her husband said, she helped so many people with her calculated and sensible advice and support. She will be missed, as she was always outspoken for nursing and the NHS. I returned to nursing (not because of Claire needless to say but I have always remembered talking to her), because I too believe in the NHS. Who will take her place on the soap box and advisory role... come on we NEED more people like Claire?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Such sad news to hear that one of nursing's most passionate, outspoken and forthright advocates has died.
    My heartfelt sympathies go to her family and friends as well as who knew here.
    I do wonder who will speak out now? - she will be sadly and sorely missed.
    God bless you my love.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • i feel she should stand along side florance nightingale on 12th may nurses day she should have more reconition as she was a nurse and i like her last words watch out mr cameron?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • very sad news indeed:o(
    Rest in peace.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Claire RIP did a very good job but actually wasn't a nurse for too long, giving it up in 1960 to become a writer. That is what I would like to do, because what I am witnessing around me with cuts and their effect on both patients and nurses is quite soul-destroying, and I would like to tell the world about it, but you can't while you are in the profession, because of the NMC and bringing the profession into disrepute blah blah.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I hope Mrs Rayner received care of the highest quality during her illness and until the end such she and every other patient deserve and which provided the opportunity for the NHS and all its staff involved to demonstrate their services to their full potential

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I hope Mrs Rayner received care of the highest quality during her illness and until the end such she and every other patient deserve and which provided the opportunity for the NHS and all its staff involved to demonstrate their services to their full potential

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Claire Rayner should represent a 'Nurse and Carers Day' lets unite....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Very sad to lose Claire - but what powerful final words.
    The NHS is being destroyed because of the huge costs of running a US style competitive health market.
    As nursing staff we need to be writing to and lobbying our MPs and above all reviving our union branches (rather than just whinging about their failings) and turning them outwards to build links with the community.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • An end of an era - Claire always championed nursing, the values and beliefs of a good nurse, rose to challenge & be challenged -we have lost an inspiration & a true advocate for patients.
    Never be replaced and was the modern-day Florrie - who years on no-one can argue either basic principles or values.
    Thanks Claire for your determination and hardwork

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.