NHS BOSS SUICIDE IN HOSPITAL; Riddle of Doc under Pressure to Cut Pounds 21m Losses

Article excerpt

Byline: By JEREMY ARMSTRONG

A TOP doctor found dead at a hospital that is pounds 21million in the red is thought to have killed herself because of stress at work.

Fiona Clarke, 44, was in charge of intensive-care services at the James Cook NHS hospital in Middlesbrough, which is under severe pressure to cut costs.

Her partner Dr Richard Hartley discovered her body in her office. Yesterday, police and hospital chiefs would not reveal how Dr Clarke died but detectives said there were "no suspicious circumstances".

Dr Hartley, a consultant radiologist, would not comment on whether Dr Clarke's death could have been linked to pressures at work.

He said: "I do not want to politicise her death and my grief. I have her funeral to organise.

"You cannot imagine what I am going through."

A spokesman for South Tees Hospital NHS Trust confirmed there was a deficit but declined to comment on the impact it might have had on Dr Clarke, who had held the job of clinical director for four years.

At the end of the last financial year, the trust was pounds 25million in the red.

By January, after a cost cutting programme, the losses had been reduced to pounds 21million. …