Fears for missing doctor

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Police said yesterday they were "very concerned" for the welfare of a casualty doctor who disappeared from his home in the middle of the night, leaving only a jumbled message. Matthew Choyce, 34, left his home in Newcastle upon Tyne shortly after getting up to fetch a glass of water at 4am on Tuesday. His car was later found abandoned near a beach at Tynemouth.

His wife, Jane, 30, also a doctor, said he had become depressed after wrestling with the issue of what direction his career should move in. Dr Choyce is a trained surgeon and a senior registrar at Sunderland Royal Hospital and the couple have been married for two years.

Spokesman for Northumbria police, who are heading the search, said: "He's left a lovely wife and a good career. There were no problems with the marriage as far as we know.

"We don't think he was actually thinking straight when he left the house. It just causes concern that he's an educated man and it's very unusual for him to walk out of the house and just abandon the car, so we're very concerned about him."

Police were yesterday continuing a land and sea search of the area, as it emerged that he had tried to track down a society of old schoolfriends at Eton just hours before he went missing.

Dr Choyce had rung his father, Professor Peter Choyce, 78, on Monday evening, asking him to help him find numbers for the Old Etonian Medical Society - a group of former pupils, aged 20-80, with an interest in medicine. Professor Choyce said his son had sounded "pretty normal" and that a message found in the car was not "a classical suicide note".