Dr Justin Amery obituary

Other lives: Senior GP and children’s palliative care doctor in the UK and Africa

My friend, mentor and GP colleague Dr Justin Amery, who has died suddenly and unexpectedly aged 56, was a passionate innovator and an inspirational leader who put kindness and compassion at the centre of everything he did. He combined his role as a senior GP partner with a long parallel career as a children’s palliative care doctor in the UK and Africa, and wrote 12 medical books.

However, his main life focus and values were firmly centred on his closest relationships: with his wife, Karen (nee Bateman), also a doctor, his five children and his friends.

Justin was born in London, to Anthony Amery, director of surgery at Frimley Park hospital in Surrey, and Rhian (nee Jones), an English teacher. The second of four children, he would sometimes accompany his father on his surgical rounds. Seeing his dad take time to sit with patients, listening carefully while holding their hands, inspired him to study medicine.

After France Hill secondary school in Camberley, Justin attended UWC Atlantic, an innovative sixth-form college in Wales that encouraged independence and community service alongside rigorous preparation for the international baccalaureate. The experience was a formative one, not least because Justin met the love of his life, Karen, whom he married in 1988. He went on to study medicine at Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School (now part of Imperial College School of Medicine) from 1984 to 1989.

Justin’s first job as a GP was at Bury Knowle surgery in Oxford, where he took on the added responsibility of a partnership role. He remained there until his death. Justin constantly strove to improve things for patients and colleagues. He brought senior nurses and the practice manager into the partnership, rebooted the practice as Hedena Health, was an early adopter of technology and rescued failing practices from closure. His vision and his galvanisation of the team allowed our practice to thrive at a time of great difficulty for general practices.

Early in his career, Justin was invited to help at Helen House (now Helen & Douglas House), a children’s hospice in Oxford: he loved this work and took over as medical director from 1995 to 2005, and then later as the medical director at Keech Hospice Care. His work in children’s palliative care benefited families and colleagues across the world, not least through his book Children’s Palliative Care in Africa.

I first met Justin in 2014 after a difficult period in my life and career. He was warm and inspiring and offered me a job on the spot. It was five years before I accepted the offer, but he was the reason I eventually did.

Justin’s decision to take his own life was completely out of character, and his loss will be felt across primary care in Oxfordshire, and in the field of palliative care in the UK and internationally.

He is survived by Karen, his children, Michael, Mair, Rhiannon, Florence and Katende, his parents and his siblings, Paul, Julian and Louise.

Laura Watson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Marta Krawiec obituary
Other lives: Paediatrician and child allergist at Evelina London children’s hospital

Angelique Richardson

15, Sep, 2021 @4:58 PM

Article image
Heather Trickey obituary
Other lives: Policy and research manager at NCT who became a leading expert on infant feeding

Simon Brindle

22, Oct, 2021 @4:59 PM

Article image
Razia Mir obituary
Other lives: Doctor who left rural Pakistan to make a new life in Britain

Sabuhi Gard

08, Aug, 2018 @12:08 PM

Article image
Robert Blomfield obituary
Other lives: Family doctor and acclaimed photographer known for his striking street photography

Johnny Blomfield

22, Feb, 2021 @11:23 AM

Article image
Sheila Abdullah obituary
Other lives: GP in Liverpool and Sheffield who campaigned for women’s liberation and abortion rights

Wajda Abdullah

23, Sep, 2020 @1:43 PM

Article image
William Harkness obituary
Other lives: Paediatric neurosurgeon who specialised in epilepsy surgery

Roger Billins

06, May, 2021 @5:07 PM

Article image
Don Ebrahim obituary
Doctor who became an early expert on group hynotherapy and sex reassignment surgery

Shah Ebrahim

26, Apr, 2020 @11:40 AM

Article image
Nigel Charles obituary
Other lives: Expert on social care and mental health who had a talent for bringing people together

Josiah Mortimer

28, Sep, 2018 @4:52 PM

Article image
Mary Cronk obituary
Midwife, educator and expert in breech and twin births with an instinctive empathy with those at the bottom of the pile

Mavis Kirkham

13, Feb, 2019 @5:28 PM

Article image
Benjamin Lee obituary
Other lives: Dedicated doctor and accomplished musician

Hermione Lee

25, Feb, 2019 @5:30 PM