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19 Sep 2016
A GP who kept a blog about living with bipolar disorder was found dead after being suspended from work when a patient read her online entries and complained, an inquest has heard. In the weeks leading up to her death, Dr Wendy Potts had written candidly about her condition and the effect it had on her life.
A patient at her surgery saw her online posts and contacted management, questioning whether she should be able to practise as a GP. The inquest heard that Potts later told her partner: “How can I have been so stupid?”
Potts, who had two children, was suspended after the October half-term break, which is said to have deepened her symptoms. By the time of her death, her suspension had been lifted, but she had not been allowed back to work. Her partner, Mark St John Jones, found her body at the family’s home in Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, on 24 November last year.
Jones said Potts, 46, had kept a blog in which she stated that she had bipolar disorder. He told the court that a patient had read the blog and complained to the surgery, which was not named during the hearing.
The court heard Potts was under psychiatric care and her medication was increased after the suspension. Before she died, the suspension was lifted but other investigations were still being completed. Jones said Potts had experienced other work-related stress, including dealing with the death of a patient, and had previously tried to take her own life.
Dr David Walker, a consultant psychiatrist, said he was not aware of this attempt. “She chose not to tell me this had happened,” he added.
Potts’s mother, Joan, told the court about a manic episode her daughter had experienced in February 2014. She said: “She was shouting, jumping on the settee and talking in rhyme. It was very strange – I’ve never seen anything like it before. We didn’t see anything like it again.”
Afterwards, Potts did not work for three months. Joan Potts added that her daughter “felt she had got more than she could cope with” after she and her partner bought a smallholding in Cardigan, west Wales, in May.
However, Jones said: “Wendy wrote in her blog that this was what she wanted. She wanted to get away from work.”
Derbyshire’s assistant coroner, James Newman, adjourned the inquest to obtain a report relating to Potts’s suspension.