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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Fear of inquiry drove GP to 'horrifying' suicide

A feeling that he had not done enough to save a patient's life led a GP to take his own, an inquest has concluded.

Dr Mark Gradwell, a GP in Poynton, Cheshire, committed suicide in May by throwing himself in front of a train.

His GP, Dr Sylvia Glass, told the inquest last week Dr Gradwell had taken a complaint about his care of an elderly patient as a 'personal attack'.

Even though he had been cleared after an investigation by Eastern Cheshire PCT, he did not believe he had been fully vindicated and the thought of his family being dragged through a public inquiry was making him unwell.

In a written statement, Dr Glass said Dr Gradwell diagnosed himself with 'full blown clinical depression' for which she prescribed anti-depressants.

The deputy coroner for Cheshire, Dr Janet Napier, recorded a verdict that Dr Gradwell took his own life while the balance of his mind was disturbed and gave his cause of death as multiple injuries.

She said: 'In his own mind he hadn't lived up to his very high standards he set for himself and wouldn't listen to anyone saying what he did was the right thing.

'It is absolutely horrifying that this can happen to someone who has given their all so conscientiously for years and years.'

A suicide note addressed to his family hidden under plant pots in the greenhouse at their home lay undiscovered until a week after his death.

Dr Gradwell's wife, Kathryn, a nurse, told the inquest her husband had 'written that he had failed in his duty to his patient and therefore he had failed us and didn't want to put us through an inquiry.'

Mrs Gradwell said her husband had been working 12-hour days, because of absences at the practice.

During that period he saw an elderly patient and arranged for her to be admitted into a nursing home, instead of hospital, as he couldn't find anything 'acutely wrong' with her.

'He visited the lady a few days later and sent her to hospital where she got better initially but died a few weeks later,' Mrs Gradwell said. 'He felt he hadn't done the best he could.'

She added: 'In the few weeks before he died he talked it through with a colleague, and me, and was feeling better.

'We were making plans for the future.'

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