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Editor's blog Tuesday 12 October 2010: RIP Claire Rayner, a patient champion

The Guardiancarries the sad news of the death of former nurse, midwife, agony aunt and patient movement champion Claire Rayner, aged 79 at her home.

She had been living with cancer since the early part of this decade, and in 2006 wrote this piece about it for the BBC website.

What she told her family she wanted to be known as her last words are perhaps more timely than ever: "Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS, I'll come back and bloody haunt him.".

Her husband of 53 years and agent Des Rayner told BBC News, "Through her work she helped hundreds of thousands of people and doubtless, by talking frankly about the importance of safe sex in the Eighties when almost nobody else would discuss it, helped to save thousands of lives.

"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".

I had the pleasure of meeting her once at a conference I was chairing in Leeds a few years ago. Mobility was difficult for her by this point, but nothing would stop her making her own way onto the stage.

Tired from her journey and in some evident pain, she gamely battled through her talk, totally abandoning her notes part-way through to talk to her audience of the importance of human contact in receiving and giving healthcare, advising delegates to always remember "people are afraid in hospital, and probably in pain".

The audience loved her, of course.

Time to go write those last words of hers up on a wall, Mr Cameron.