Devon

Rose Polge inquest: Junior doctor had doubts over profession

Rose Polge Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Junior doctor Rose Polge took her own life

A junior doctor who killed herself at the time of a strike by colleagues had doubts over continuing in the profession, an inquest has heard.

Rose Polge, 25, who worked at Torbay Hospital in Devon, disappeared on 12 February. Her body was found in the sea off the coast of Dorset on 1 April.

The coroner concluded Dr Polge took her own life by walking into the sea.

In a statement read in court, her family called for action to halt the "crisis" affecting trainee doctors.

More on the junior doctor inquest, and other news

Dr Polge had been "afraid of working the weekend" after working five days of an 11-day stretch, the inquest at Torquay heard.

'Very capable'

Her boyfriend of five years, Dr Alasdair Hawley, said she woke him in a "distressed" state on the morning of Friday, 12 February.

Describing the last time he saw his girlfriend alive, Dr Hawley told the court: "I remember her asking me if she left medicine would I still love her."

He said: "I know she was struggling at work with perceived self-doubts. But feedback was that she was progressing well and was actually very capable."

Dr Polge left her shift at Torbay Hospital early after concerns were raised about her wellbeing and she saw a supervisor.

Her body was discovered off the Portland Bill headland seven weeks later.

South Devon coroner Ian Arrow said he was satisfied Dr Polge "died of drowning or hypothermia by immersion in water".

Image caption Rose Polge went into the sea at Torbay and her body was found off the Portland Bill headland

It emerged during the search for Dr Polge that she had left notes to loved ones before she disappeared.

The BBC understands that a note found in her car related mainly to personal issues, but included a passing reference to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

'Terrific pressure'

Little detail about the content of the notes was referred to in court.

In a statement read at the inquest, Dr Polge's tearful family called for action.

It said many doctors worked "under terrific pressure" and coped with "fatigue and heavy workloads" which could "generate massive levels of anxiety".

It continued: "Doctors can feel a dreadful sense of personal failure and inadequacy if they struggle to keep working. Sometimes, the despair can be sudden and overwhelming."

The family said a recent General Medical Council survey identified the problem with low morale and heavy workloads, particularly among junior doctors.

They added: "Our hope is that something will be done about this crisis in the health service."

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