Devon

Doctor Alastair Watt's 'toxic' relationship with boss

Alastair Watt Image copyright Family photograph
Image caption Dr Watt, a keen cyclist known as the "beast" for his hill climbing skills, suffered a serious head injury in 2016 after which his work-related stress became worse, the inquest heard

A doctor who took his own life had a "toxic" relationship with his hospital's medical director, an inquest has been told.

Dr Alastair Watt, a diabetes consultant at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, was signed off sick with work-related stress before he died.

The 45-year-old was found in a field in North Tawton in December 2017. He had taken an overdose of anti-depressants.

A suicide note found after his death included an apology to his patients.

The inquest, at County Hall in Exeter, heard Dr Watt was working on a project which aimed and improving diabetes services, but in the four years prior to his death, he had no consultant colleague and relied on a team of nurses to deliver diabetes care for the hospital and the community.

'Highly agitated'

The inquest was told his stress became worse after a serious cycling accident.

The keen cyclist - known as the "beast" by fellow riders due to his hill-climbing skills - suffered a head injury in the accident in Wales in 2016, which left him in intensive care.

His GP wife, Ruth Watt said he had suffered from work stress which got worse after the accident, but managers had not believed he was overworked.

She described her husband's relations with the trust's medical director as "toxic".

"He was not right, he was highly agitated," she said.

"He was not sure how he would cope."

Image copyright Northern Devon Healthcare Trust
Image caption Former rugby player, athlete and cyclist Dr Alastair Watt leaves a wife and 12-year-old twins

Mrs Watt said her husband told her: "I am single handed and no-one is overseeing me."

She said he had been "destroyed" by an occupational health referral made by the hospital trust without his knowledge and "ashamed" at being on long-term sick leave.

"He had an extremely strong work ethos and thought that is where he should be," she said.

Pathologist Dr Russell Delaney told the inquest Dr Watt's collapse and sudden death was "most likely due to the effects of the drugs which led to hypothermia".

The former rugby player, athlete and cyclist, leaves a wife and 12-year-old twins - a son and daughter.

The inquest continues.

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