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The New Zealand Medical Journal

 Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 07-November-2008, Vol 121 No 1285

Ashton Fitchett
(27 January 1926 - 11 October 2008; OBE)
Ash Fitchett was a Brooklyn GP for 32 years. It goes without saying that he assisted hundreds of Brooklyn residents at their births, attended them in childhood, in their teens, as they became parents themselves and, when their lives drew to a close, did his best to ease the passage of their last days.content01.jpg
A lanky and good-humoured individual with a pronounced sense of duty to his patients, Dr Fitchett was a neighbourhood doctor who not only made house calls day and night.
He followed his patients to hospital, visited them when they returned home, and monitored their conditions long after their afflictions had subsided or vanished.
He practised from rooms built at the front of his house at 151 Ohiro Rd. Its position had the added benefit of convenience for an important member of his staff: his wife, Ruth, was practice nurse and administrator while also attending to family duties.
Her husband was a product of Wellington College, Victoria University College, and Otago University's medical school, from which he graduated in 1952.
In 1955 he opened his first rooms in rented Brooklyn premises before having a home and rooms built nearby. "When I qualified there was no special training for general practitioners," he said on his retirement in January 1990. "We learned on the job."
Training for GPs became one of his missions. It would doubtless have been of help when he was fined in 1957 for disclosing the nature of a woman patient's illness to her partner. The finding caused the British Medical Association to issue a warning that medical doctors "are obliged to observe strictly the rule of professional secrecy by refraining from disclosing information about their patient to any third party, even if that party is a husband or a wife". Dr Fitchett took it on the chin. It was a lesson learned, he said.
He sat on numerous medical boards, training boards, advisory committees, was a member of the NZ Medical Association, and a lecturer in medical practice. By 1965 he was a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners, and nine years later a member of its New Zealand equivalent. He was made a fellow of the New Zealand college in 1977 and was an influential figure in the movement to establish the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, of which he became member No 1. In 1994 he was made an honorary fellow, the college's highest award.
If that wasn't enough, he also found time to be divisional surgeon for the St John Ambulance Brigade, he chaired Scout groups and Wellington College's parents' association, its board of governors and community health organisations. He also founded the Brooklyn Community Trust, which provided holidays for children of needy families. He was made an OBE in 1984.
Dr Fitchett suffered a stroke a week prior to his death. He is survived by his wife, their two daughters and son.
Peter Kitchin wrote this obituary under the heading Brooklyn doc came from the old school; it appeared in the 16 Oct 2008 edition of The Dominion newspaper (Wellington). Sources: A Fitchett, Royal NZ College of GPs, Wellington Central Library. We thank staff of The Dominion for reprint permission.
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