TRAGIC Stourbridge GP Dr Liz Pope was due to be posthumously honoured with an award in Parliament today (Thursday) at a ceremony to thank unsung health service heroes who have made a difference in their communities.
The 38-year-old doctor, who worked at Three Villages Medical Practice in Amblecote and Wollaston, left patients and medics across the Black Country devastated when she died suddenly last November just two hours after walking away from a car crash on a country lane near her home in Claverley.
Described as a "dedicated, respected and much-loved GP" by her heartbroken family - Dr Pope, who had survived a heart operation six years earlier and a subsequent battle with thyroid cancer, was also a key member of Dudley's Clinical Commissioning Group and was involved in many groups and committees dedicated to improving healthcare provision.
Such was the esteem in which she was held among the health fraternity of Stourbridge - the town's MP, with help from staff at Three Villages, nominated her for a posthumous award - which was due to be presented to the doctor's husband Trevor and Dr Ruth Edwards from Dudley CCG at a ceremony organised by Public Health Minister Jane Ellison.
The event, taking place at 12.15pm, was organised to thank health service stars who have embraced public health reforms and gone above the call of duty to benefit their communities.
Conservative MP Margot James described Dr Pope as "much-loved by her patients" and said she was "an individual who truly deserves recognition for her work on improving the public’s health".
She added: "Dr Pope’s invaluable work certainly improved the lives of many in the community. She was determined to make a difference to people across the Dudley borough and beyond.
"As a direct result of Liz’s wider work, first for the PCT and then with the CCG, hundreds of people have survived life-threatening illnesses who might otherwise have died – and thousands more have enjoyed the benefit of better, safer, more patient focused care in hospital and in the community. "
She said Dr Pope "was instrumental in helping Three Villages to become one of the highest performing practices in the borough" and she added: "Dr Pope was a major contributor to many significant achievements in the community, including the establishment of a local dementia service and empowering patients to take more control over their care by establishing Expert Patient Programmes for dementia, COPD and stroke."
She said the doctor met with her a few months before she died to discuss health campaigns she was developing including a strategy to help people battling alcohol abuse which Ms James still hopes "will come to fruition in the near future".
The MP added: "Liz Pope’s lasting legacy will be that as a result of her hard work and enthusiasm, health care in Dudley is far better in many ways than it was before she began her work here in the borough."
Dr Pope, who studied medicine at Leicester University, had been driving a black Alfa Romeo Giulietta when she crashed on an unnamed road at 8.05am on November 27.
The busy GP, a keen triathlete, horse-rider and hockey player in her spare time who was a volunteer medic at the 2012 London Olympic Games, chose not to go to hospital after the incident which happened as she overtook a cyclist on her way to work. Instead she was collected from the scene by her husband but she died later at home.
Heartbroken at her untimely death - her family described her as "someone who lived a full life" and in a statement they said: "In her comparatively short 38-year life, Liz achieved more and did more good by bringing healing, hope and love to those around her than most of us do in much longer lives."