GP found dead after inquiry by health authority

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A family doctor who was investigated last year over the death of a patient has been found dead at the foot of cliffs, police said yesterday.

The body of Dr Philip Evans was discovered at Rhossili on the Gower peninsula, south Wales, on Tuesday afternoon. He had been reported missing the previous day. Police said they were not treating the death as suspicious.

Dr Evans, 52, who was married with a 17-year-old daughter, had practised for more than 25 years and worked at the Gowerton practice in Swansea.

He had been the subject of an inquiry over the death of one of his patients, Michael Oliver, of Gowerton, who is believed to have died of pneumonia at Morriston Hospital in Swansea last year after being diagnosed by Dr Evans as having flu.

Mr Oliver's family complained to the local health authority, Iechyd Morgannwg Health, and an independent inquiry was carried out last August, the results of which remain confidential.

Dr Ian Millington, secretary of the Morgannwg Local Medical Committee, said he had known Dr Evans for 25 years and counted him as a friend. He described him as "one of the good guys" and said he and all Dr Evans's colleagues were devastated by his death.

Dr Millington said he believed the trauma of being made the subject of an inquiry into a patient's death "may have been a contributory factor". He said: "Many doctors are under intense stress at the moment and there's evidence that more doctors are falling by the wayside because of the stress they are under."

The chairman of the local medical committee, Dr R Byron Evans, described Dr Evans's death as "tragic and untimely".

He said: "Phil was well known as a caring and compassionate general practitioner who exercised great skill when looking after his patients. He will be greatly missed by his family, his patients and his colleagues."

Colleagues at the Gowerton surgery described him as a "caring and conscientious doctor who always gave of his best and dedicated his life to the welfare of his patients".

In a statement they said: "He was also a good family man, a loving husband and father and will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him."