Legal actions attacked after doctor's suicide: Too easy to sue, coroner believes

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The Independent Online
A CORONER yesterday attacked the increase in law suits against professional people after hearing how a doctor killed himself as a legal action over his work was pending.

Bill Walrond, the West Suffolk coroner, was speaking after the inquest on Dr Adrian Gallimore, 36, a consultant anaesthetist at West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, who was under pressure from law suits being brought against two hospitals over treatment by him. He was also under stress as a result of an affair.

Mr Walrond said yesterday: 'It is becoming too easy to sue professional people, even when they are doing their honest and conscientious best. It certainly harms the way people like doctors treat their patients.'

The inquest had heard that Dr Gallimore had confessed to his wife that he was having an affair. His wife, Katherine, and the other woman, Dawn Godbold, a nurse, both gave evidence at the inquest.

His wife said he told her his affair had been the worst decision of his life. Mrs Godbold said that he had mentioned suicide in conversation.

Mrs Gallimore said her husband had been concerned about the legal action against the West Suffolk Hospital and the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in Norwich. She said: 'My husband treated a pain patient and there was a complication. The patient went home but had to be re-admitted for an emergency operation. His parents decided to sue West Suffolk Hospital.'

Dr Gallimore's body was found at a picnic site in October. He had killed himself with an injection of drugs.

Mr Walrond recorded a verdict of suicide on Dr Gall imore, of Chevington, Suffolk.

After the hearing a spokesman for the West Suffolk Hospital paid tribute to Dr Gallimore and said it would be strongly contesting the legal action involved. 'There was absolutely no criticism of the hospital over the drugs which were used,' he said.

The first action against him was brought during his time at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. Its spokesman, Richard Drew, said: 'It is a relatively minor allegation of negligence. We are still investigating and believe that we have a sound defence.'

The British Medical Association called for a review of the procedure for making complaints against doctors. A spokeswoman said the suicide rate among doctors was two to three times higher than in the general population. 'It is very difficult for doctors to continue practising if they have a complaint out against them,' she said: