A Tribute to Dr. James Hanratty


dr-hanratty The Religious Sisters of Charity in the English/Scottish province wish to pay tribute to Dr James Hanratty who died on 27th December 2013. We first came to know Dr Hanratty when, in 1979, he became the first Medical Director of St Joseph’s Hospice and worked alongside several of our sisters offering specialist palliative care to patients.
Fond memories abound among the sisters who worked with him of a gentle, modest, caring man, sensitive, not only to the needs of his patients and their families, but to those who worked with and around him.
Because of the contribution which Dr Hanratty made to the development of palliative care he has been described as “one of the unsung pioneers of palliative medicine” by Professor Irene Higginson who worked with him at St Joseph’s. He was instrumental in introducing a new method of pain relief and contributed to the advance of holistic palliative care. He also introduced new methods of working among front-line staff including the training of doctors in palliative medicine and multidisciplinary team meetings.
Dr Hanratty led by example. Medical staff under his guidance witnessed on a daily basis his commitment to his patients whom he always put first. He listened carefully to their concerns and did his best to resolve them. His watchword was ‘compassion with competence’ and in this he was the embodiment of the Mission and core values of the hospice.
In 1984 Dr Hanratty co-founded the charity Help the Hospices which promotes education and training in Palliative care, lobbies parliament and informs the media on issues around the care of those who are terminally ill, helps hospices to raise funds and connects supporters with local hospices.
We are privileged to have had Dr. James Hanratty as our Medical Director and owe much of the great reputation which St Joseph’s enjoys today to the major contribution he made to the hospice in his time as Medical Director there.
Dr Hanratty’s life and work were informed by his deep love and practise of his Catholic faith. His commitment as a Catholic and physician has found a resonance in heaven:
“Well done good and faithful servant, welcome into the joy of your Lord”.


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