High Peak doctor with bipolar hanged herself, inquest hears

A much-loved doctor hanged herself after battling bipolar disorder, an inquest heard.
Chesterfield coroners' court.Chesterfield coroners' court.
Chesterfield coroners' court.

Dr Wendy Potts was found dead by her partner Mark St John Jones at her home on Hayfield Road, Chapel-en-le-Frith, on November 24 last year.

Chesterfield coroners’ court heard the 46-year-old mother went from experiencing a manic high in February to a significant low at the time of her death.

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During Monday’s inquest, Mr Jones said Dr Potts kept an online blog in which she stated she suffered from bipolar disorder, a mental health condition marked by alternating periods of elation and depression.

He told the court a patient read the blog and complained to Dr Potts’ surgery, questioning whether she should be practicing as a GP when she had the condition.

After the October half-term break, Dr Potts was suspended from the practice - which was not identified during the inquest.

Mr Jones said: “Wendy said, ‘how can I have been so stupid?’ - relating to the blog.”

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The court heard Dr Potts was under psychiatric care and her medication was increased after the suspension.

Before Dr Potts’ died, the suspension was lifted by the surgery but this was subject to other investigations being completed.

Mr Jones said Dr Potts experienced other work-related stresses - including dealing with the death of a patient - and had previously tried to commit suicide.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr David Walker said he was not aware of this attempt.

“She chose not to tell me this had happened,” he added.

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Dr Potts’ mother Joan told the court about her daughter’s manic high in February.

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.”

After the manic high, Dr Potts did not work for three months.

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Mrs Potts added her daughter ‘felt she had got more than she could cope with’ after she and Mr Jones bought a smallholding in Cardigan, west Wales, in May.

However, Mr Jones said: “Wendy wrote in her blog that this was what she wanted.

“She wanted to get away from work.”

Coroner James Newman adjourned the inquest to obtain and read a report relating to Dr Potts’ suspension.

The hearing will continue on a date yet to be fixed.

• The Samaritans provides a free, confidential listening service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Whatever you’re going through, you can call the helpline on 116 123 or email [email protected]. Visitwww.samaritans.org.uk for more information about the Samaritans. In addition, Mind offers information and advice to people with mental health problems. Call the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393 or email [email protected]. Visit www.mind.org.uk for more information about Mind.