Devon

Missing doctor Rose Polge's family 'overwhelmed by support'

Rose Polge Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Rose Polge has not been seen since Friday evening

The family of a missing junior doctor has said they are "overwhelmed by the support" of dozens of people who have helped to search for her along the Devon coast.

Rose Polge, 25, whose car was found in a car park near Ansteys Cove in Torbay, disappeared on Friday.

Divers have been searching just south of the cove, as part of a major operation.

The family statement thanked everyone for their "help, hope and kind words".

The BBC understands that a note was found in Dr Polge's car.

It is believed its contents were mainly related to personal issues, but there was a passing reference to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

It is understood Dr Polge is an active campaigner against plans to change working hours and conditions for junior doctors, and in January posted a new Facebook profile picture, featuring the hashtag #NotFairNotSafe.

On Thursday, Mr Hunt confirmed the government would impose a new contract on junior doctors in England.

Image caption Divers are searching to the south of Ansteys Cove, near where Dr Polge's car was found on Friday

Dr Polge's family said: "The support we have received from family and friends has been much appreciated, and clearly Rose is loved far and wide.

"We are overwhelmed by the support from her friends and colleagues, dozens of whom have been combing the Devon Coast in search of Rose.

Image caption Rose Polge's car was found in a car park near Ansteys Cove in Torbay

"As the search continues we would appreciate some privacy from the press in our time of distress."

Police said her disappearance was "totally out of character" and concerns for her welfare were rising.

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed an item of clothing had been found at the cove, but would not say whether it belonged to Dr Polge.

Image caption More than 100 people have been involved in the search operation
Image caption Police used a drone to search for the missing junior doctor along the South Devon coastline

Coastguards and search and rescue groups searched for her in Torquay at the weekend.

Friends and local residents combed the beaches in the area on Saturday and Sunday, while police also searched more remote areas such as cliff tops and woodland.

More than 100 people have been involved in the search operation, including Dr Polge's boyfriend and her family, who live in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire.

Police are appealing for the public to contact them with any information or sightings of Dr Polge.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with Dr Polge's family and friends at an extremely difficult time."

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