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Married NHS consultant, 50, at centre of sex claims probe drowned in a river

A married NHS senior consultant facing sex allegations drowned in a river hours after learning the General Medical Council would not be dropping their investigation, his inquest heard today.

Dr Sridharan Suresh, 50, a senior consultant anaesthetist at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, was found dead in the River Tees near Jubilee Bridge in Stockton on May 2, 2018.

His software architect wife, Visalakshmi, told Teeside Coroners' Court that her husband felt his character had been 'assassinated' by the claims ‘of a sexual nature’ against him, which he vigorously denied.

Dr Sridharan Suresh, 50, a senior consultant anaesthetist at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, was found dead in the River Tees near Jubilee Bridge in Stockton on May 2, 2018

At the time of his death, Cleveland Police were looking into the allegations but Dr Suresh was under the impression the police investigation was to be discontinued and that he was to be allowed to return to work, his wife said.

She said her husband had been ‘devastated’ by the claims as she told the court: 'In our eyes, my husband was being defamed.'

Dr Suresh had expected to return to work on April 19, 2018, only to be left 'shattered' after being told by the trust the day before that his exclusion was being extended by four weeks 'to dot the i's and cross the t's'.

She said he was also assured at a meeting on April 19 with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust that police wouldn't refer the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service unless they found substantial evidence to support the allegation.

On April 30, the trust's HR department contacted him to say they were still awaiting news from police.

On May 1, he received an email from the GMC, asking to confirm his email address.

But on May 2 - the day of his death - another GMC email was sent to him 'setting out allegations and what was going to happen.'

The inquest heard that Dr Suresh, who was born in India but lived in Ingleby Barwick, was an experienced and respected consultant doctor at the height of his career.

His wife said he feared his reputation would be shattered if there was a GMC investigation, which could last for years. He wanted to clear his name, resign from the trust and move to London, she added.

The inquest heard that an email Dr Suresh sent to his wife the day he died contained information that he intended to take his own life, saying that he had 'done nothing wrong' but that he couldn't 'go on like this forever'. 

In an impact statement, she said her husband had felt isolated but there had been a lack of support, and that even a reassuring phone call 'would have made a huge difference'.

Calling it a 'systematic failure from the organisation', she said: 'He was totally dedicated to serving his patients.'

Teesside senior coroner Clare Bailey asked her: 'At any point were you concerned your husband might take his own life, or would be vulnerable to self-harm or hurting himself?'

She replied: 'No'.

When Leslie Thomas QC, who is representing the family, asked why he didn't request occupational therapy, she said: 'Because he had been told that there would be no referral and he would get back to work soon.'

She also said he was never told by police that a referral to the GMC had been made.

A post mortem gave the medical cause of death as drowning. The inquest is scheduled to conclude tomorrow. 

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