A cruel twist of fate for doctor on emergency alert

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For any parent it was a shock impossible to comprehend. But for Dr Kathryn Morton, who was working at the Stirling Royal Infirmary when the casualties arrived from Dunblane, it was a particularly cruel way to discover the fate of her own daughter.

The hospital had declared an emergency alert as soon as officials were informed of the shooting at the local primary school.

Despite the unprecedented scale and horror of the event, the staff responded with extraordinary calm.

However Dr Morton, a cytologist, was forced to cast aside her professional role, as soon as it became evident the massacre had taken place at the school her five-year-old daughter attended.

Instead she joined the other parents in the agonising wait to discover what had become of their children, only to be told that Emily was among those killed.

The feelings of sympathy from hospital staff were expressed by Alan Hunter, chief executive of Stirling Royal Infirmary.

He said: "Every member of staff in the hospital is deeply saddened by the death of Kathryn's daughter. Our thoughts are with her and her family."

Even for medical staff, used to coping with the worst, the Dunblane tragedy has been deeply affecting, and they have all been offered counselling.

Dr Hamish Finlay, the hospital director, spoke yesterday of his shock when the first victim arrived.

He said: "This was in fact a child that died, a little girl. Until that stage we did not know how bad it was going to be... I suppose what surprised me a wee bit was the way the children coped."

For many, the tragedy affecting one of their own colleagues was particularly poignant.

Dr Jack Beattie, a consultant paediatrician at the hospital, which has been widely praised for its handling of the tragedy, said yesterday: "Obviously that brings us even closer than we would expect to be."

Dr Beattie said he and his staff had all gained from the "tremendous example" of the children, but said he had been moved to tears himself as he saw child after child being carried into the hosp- ital.