Intended for healthcare professionals


Suicides among junior doctors in the NHS

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 26 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2527
  1. Rachel Clarke, specialty doctor in palliative medicine1,
  2. Martin McKee, professor of European public health2
  1. 1Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford, UK
  2. 2London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: M McKee martin.mckee{at}

Suicide should be included among work related causes of death

On 12 February 2016, Rose Polge, a foundation doctor at Torbay Hospital in south west England, disappeared.1 Her body was found in the sea almost two months later. At the inquest, the coroner concluded that she had taken her own life by walking into the sea.

Her death attracted media attention, partly because it occurred at the height of the junior doctors’ dispute over their new contract, but also because she had expressed concern about the pressures in the NHS, leaving a note that mentioned the secretary of state, Jeremy Hunt. Polge’s mother linked her daughter’s suicide directly to her conditions of work, stating on her Just Giving page: “Exhaustion because of long hours, work related anxiety, despair at her future in medicine and the news of the imposition of the new contract on junior doctors (announced [the day before Rose died]) were definite contributors to this awful and final decision.”2

Wider problem

Concern about suicides among junior doctors …

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