Your Dad picks you up from Uni for the Christmas holidays. You get in the car, he asks how you’ve been, you say fine. He knows you’ve been finding things tough but it doesn’t seem like he really wants to hear about it. Sound familiar?
Dr James Halcrow, 34, had been told not to drink by General Medical Council (GMC) following his self referral for “other issues he was having”.
He was found dead by friends in his flat in Manchester’s Northern Quarter on June 24. An inquest heard he had hanged himself due to fears he would fail an alcohol test.
Since his death it has come to light he had won the national award ‘Trainee GP of the Year’. The note which was found with his body read: “I’m sorry.”
At the inquest into his death Ian Halcrow, his father and former soldier, said: “He had an amazing number of friends. He thrived on friendship and had a very close family as well.” According to the Manchester Evening Standard.
He added: “He chose to refer himself to the GMC off his own back. He was a very honest person and felt it was the correct thing to do as a responsible individual and medical practitioner.”
Dr Halcrow had attended two interviews with the GMC both leaving him hopeful of getting the restrictions lifted. However he felt the final interview had gone badly after he said he would drink socially once the GMC had finished their investigation.
Coroner Dr Jean Harkin said of his death: “It is clear James was an excellent doctor, so much so he was given an award. He was very sociable and this restriction affected him deeply and affected the social side of his life also”
Doctors at Risk
In 2014 a doctor under investigation by the GMC was 20 times more likely to commit suicide than a member general public according to figures from the Department of Health.
South London GP and blogger Dr Una Coales, who has herself faced investigation from the RCGP said:
“The GMC must reform and ensure they arrange counselling and support for any doctor they are investigating or putting under restrictions that may affect employment and pay.”
If you feel affected by any of the issues raised here and need someone to talk with the Samaritans are always happy to listen. They provide a 24 hour, free and confidential service:
Call 116 123
Featured image accredited to DarkoStojanovic
Today on Radio 4 I heard the very sad story of a man left with a 90 memory following routine dental treatment.
According to the case study published in neurocase, the infamous root canal in 2005 lasted 50 minutes. Following the procedure the patient, known as WP, was suffering “slow speech” and appeared “vacant” according to the dentist.
When after half an hour there was no improvement WP was taken to hospital. Initially his memory stretched just 10 minutes but over the following month that improved, eventually reaching 90 minutes, the level at which it remains to this day.
WP was initially under the care of neurologists, who suspected his symptoms may be caused by anesthesia. However brain scans showed non structural damage normally associated with this type of memory loss.
Anterograde amnesia: is the loss of the ability to create new memories after the event that caused the amnesia. Leading to an inability to recall the recent past, while long-term memories from before the event remain intact.
Retrograde amnesia: is the loss of memory about events that occurred, or information that was learned before the onset of amnesia.
WP remembers all personal details up to the morning of the event but nothing since [anterograde amnesia]. This means he wakes up each morning still expecting the root canal he received in 2005.
Thankfully WP’s personality and ability to problem solve remain largely unchanged. This means with prompts from his wife and using tools such as a digital camera, sat-nav and electronic diary he is able to get by in his day to day life.
a little bit of science
It had previously been understood that the functioning of the diencephalon or basal ganglial structures were the basis of forming new memories. But due to the absence of damage to these areas in the case of WP and the 4 others described in the case study it has been suggested that this is an over simplification.
The study suggests one explanation of this previously uncatalogued memory loss, which has elements of both aneterograde and retrograde amnesia, requries a new classification.
Dr Gerald Burgess presents a theory citing “the breakdown mRNA protein synthesis” as the cause of this unusual occurrence. However he goes on to state more research is needed
Featured image accredited to Marumari
This is my first blog post and my first time blogging, so please be kind! I am a medical student and an aspiring medical journalist with a special interest in psychiatry. I hope to use this blog as a platform to breakdown stigma, share knowledge, experiences, news and hopefully create discussion.
I just wanted to break the ice and get the ball rolling. You will hear from me before the weekend with something a bit more meaty.