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Veteran nursing and medical journalist
Laurence Dopson, who has died aged 88, enjoyed a career in journalism spanning more than 65 years. He witnessed the end of the Poor Law era in 1948, and was writing about the contemporary NHS until shortly before his last illness.
His original career aim was to be a doctor, but he had to leave the University of Edinburgh for health reasons. Medicine's loss was nursing's gain when the chance discovery of a vacancy as a reporter with Nursing Times led to freelance work, followed by a permanent position.
He was proud to be the first man to be a member of the editorial staff of a nursing journal in the UK. No two days were ever the same and he learned to 'always wear your smartest suit, because you never know when you will be sent on a royal visit'.
Equally at home interviewing ward nurses or the 'great and good', he managed to coax notable insights from former prime minister Harold Macmillan and Dame Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement.
His probing interview style reflected a passion for accuracy and attention to detail, but he always tried to see the best in nursing. A lifelong commitment to the profession led to many enduring friendships, and he was elected as the first honorary member of the Association of Hospital and Residential Care Officers (AHRCO). He leaves a close friend, Stella Shorthouse, whom he met at an AHRCO conference.
Laurence believed that a knowledge of history could provide a sense of perspective in the fast-paced world of health care. Writing nursing obituaries for publications such as Nursing Standard and The Independent provided an ideal outlet for his talents.
He will be greatly missed.
Obituary | July 4 2012 | Volume 26 Week 44
In this article, written in November 2010, Laurence Dopson reflects on the thinking behind his tributes.
Analysis: 'I wanted to record nurses' lives'