AN AWARD-WINNING consultant committed suicide by injecting himself with anaesthetic, an inquest heard.
Dr Alexander Stone, 41, was an anaesthetist at Southend University Hospital, where he had worked for 11 years.
Dr Stone, of Colam Lane, Little Baddow, left work after his morning rounds on Thursday, April 12 this year but failed to return later in the day.
An the inquest into his death last Thursday in Southend, heard that his partner, Sarah Mapplebeck, who also worked at the hospital, became worried when he did not reply to her texts or calls.
Coroner Peter Dean said: "He had left work at 10am and Sarah noticed he had left his wallet at work.
"She had texted him about some matters that morning and he didn't reply. She thought that may be due to him being busy."
When he did arrive at the Intensive Care Unit for work that afternoon, a concerned Ms Mapplebeck asked a colleague to find a contact number for his ex-wife, Dr Rachel Davies.
It wasn't until Ms Mapplebeck went back to the hospital accommodation in Balmoral Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, that afternoon, that she found his body.
"They found him lying on his back on a bed in a back bedroom with a syringe in his hand. He was unresponsive." said Mr Dean.
"There's mention made by the paramedic of three small vials of anaesthetic found next to Dr Stone. I think the other details are unnecessarily distressing," the coroner told the court.
Mr Dean said that Dr Stone was going through what he described as a "difficult" divorce and had been very low.
He said: "From his knowledge as a consultant anaesthetist he would have fully understood and intended the consequences of his actions."
A verdict of suicide was recorded and the coroner offered his condolences to Dr Stone's family, his children, and Ms Mapplebeck.
Dr Stone's wife, Dr Davies, attended the inquest with both her and his parents. She said that she was "completely shocked and devastated" by the death of her husband.
In a report by Ms Mapplebeck, who had been in a relationship with Dr Stone for a year and had known him professionally for six years, she described him as having an "incredibly professional manner" and said that they had been making plans for the future.
She said that Dr Stone was highly regarded at the hospital, had received many awards and said that he was tidy and organised both in his working and personal life.
"He was a lovely man – always warm, kind and generous," she said.
"Up until the last time I saw Alex, I could not imagine he would do anything like this."
Chief executive of Southend University Hospital, Jacqueline Totterdell, also paid tribute to a "highly-skilled" doctor.
"Dr Stone was a highly-skilled and dedicated anaesthetist who was totally committed to caring for his patients and helping and inspiring his younger colleagues," she said.
"He was very a highly regarded and hugely popular member of our staff, as was evident by the heartfelt tributes left after his sad death. We miss him very much."