Death of Dr Iain C Kerr

Dr Iain C Kerr Retired GP 11th August 1946 – 13th May 2016

24 May 2016


It is with great regret that FATE has to pass on the sad news that FATE Council member, Iain Kerr, has died.

Dr Iain Kerr, the retired Scottish GP who was suspended by the General Medical Council in 2008 for six months after ‘helping a patient to end her life’, died at his home on the south side of Glasgow surrounded by his close family. Iain Kerr had recently been receiving treatment at the Beatson Hospital in the city for cancer and died peacefully at home in Newton Mearns.

The softly spoken doctor was at the centre of a media storm when he was charged with prescribing sleeping pills to an 87-year-old woman patient, known only as patient ‘A’ — a retired businesswoman — when she expressed a wish to end her life. Iain Kerr was working at Williamwood medical centre in Clarkston at the time and a large number of his patients campaigned in support of their GP when he appeared before the GMC saying he was exactly the kind of family doctor that every patient would want.

The GMC subsequently ruled that Dr Kerr could return to work and all restrictions on his ability to practise were removed in August 2010.

Sixty-nine-year-old Iain Kerr had studied medicine at Edinburgh University, and was married to a nurse and had three grown up children and two grandchildren. Dr Kerr had been a prominent member of Friends at the End, was on the FATE council and was very active in the campaign to have the law on assisted dying changed over the past five years, including being a member of Doctors for Assisted Suicide.

Iain Kerr admitted helping ‘several patients’ to end their lives during his time in medicine and described the current law as ‘an ass’. He was an outspoken supporter of the late Margo Macdonald’s Assisted Suicide Bill, which was defeated at Holyrood last year.

Sheila Duffy, convener of FATE, who was at Edinburgh University at the same time as Iain, says his “quiet authority, sense of humour and compassion will be missed. Iain was a genuine, caring, old-fashioned family doctor that everyone respected and looked to for help and reassurance. He stood up for what he believed in and this cost him dearly, because I know he disliked publicity and found it difficult to deal with. Not everyone knows that Iain was also a keen cyclist, a lifelong runner, a tennis player and a wonderful ballroom dancer. He had a quick wit and always a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Iain was a really lovely person and I personally will miss him terribly.”

We have passed on our condolences to his family.