30th Anniversary Feature – Doctor in the House

Providing medical cover 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to the children and young people at Francis House is the responsibility of a team of six doctors.

Doctor at a desk

Dr Emma Leon co-ordinates the team of Doctors at Francis House.

A GP will visit the hospice every day to meet with any children and their families and look after any medical needs that they may have.

Dr Emma Leon has been one of the Hospice doctors for the past 25 years and co-ordinates the team at Francis House. Dr Leon explains: “Most of our time is spent advising with acute problems which may or may not be related to the child’s underlying condition. We will also, of course, be available for end of life care to help support the young person and their family physically and psychologically when needed.

“All the doctors are GPs with a special interest in paediatric palliative care. We all work closely with each other as well as the children’s hospital teams including consultants, community nurses and social workers – to give the child the best possible care at any given time.”

Dr David Dawson stood behind the Duke of Cambridge at Francis House

Dr David Dawson during the visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2016.


2021 saw the retirement of Dr Andy Wright after thirteen years, followed by Dr David Dawson who retired in March after more than a quarter of a century at Francis House. Dr Dawson was a familiar face to the young people and families at Francis House and his daughter Kirsty, also a GP, joined the team in January 2021.

Dr Dawson said: “When the opportunity came to work at Francis House it was my ideal job. When I first came in 1995, I thought wow this is totally above and beyond what could be provided on the NHS. I was overawed by what Francis House was offering the children in terms of the facilities, multi-sensory rooms, tactile experiences, and wonderful toys.”


“In the early days whilst on call I was able to take my own children with me and they would have their at lunch at Francis House. My daughter Kirsty went from the age of four or five and now she is a doctor herself at Francis House, and I can retire now because of that continuity."


“It’s been enjoyable looking after the children. People think a hospice is a sad place and how could I do it, but it’s not sad, we often have a laugh. Yes, the children do die but you have to accept that.

“Some of the most important and memorable times for me were spent with the bereaved siblings during the ‘Shining Stars’ sessions, just sitting and talking and spending time with the siblings.

“I have met so many families and parents over the years and I was always pleased to see to them. The children knew your name and would chat to you. I’m proud to have been part of the team and enjoyed the holistic approach to care.”

For more information about the care at Francis House visit: francishouse.org.uk/care

More posts