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Junior doctors working with the NHS on strike in London (File)

An exhausted doctor who died in a car crash is believed to have fallen asleep at the wheel reminding ourselves how stressed our junior doctors are, reports Asian Lite News

Trainee anaesthetist Dr Ronak Patel, 33, from Ixworth, Suffolk, was so tired after working three long night shifts, that he tried to stay awake by singing to his wife on his hands-free mobile phone just before he ploughed into a lorry.

He is believed to have fallen asleep on the A1088 road at Honington, just three miles from his home. His wife Helen, 33, told police that his phone had cut off suddenly as he was driving home from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. She tried to call him back unsuccessfully 14 times without getting any reply before getting into her car and re-tracing his route.

Junior doctors working with the NHS on strike in London
Junior doctors working with the NHS on strike in London

The inquest in Bury St Edmunds heard that she was met by police who told her that there had been an accident.  A police investigation ruled out mechanical defects or road conditions as causes of the crash, which took place just before 9am on August 3 last year.

Accident Investigator PC Mark Webb is reported to have said,: ‘It is my opinion that the most plausible explanation for the collision was that Dr Patel fell asleep which prevented him from having appropriate control of his car.’ The inquest was told that Dr Patel could have slept at the hospital after his shift, but was anxious to drive 40 miles back to his home.

He was said to have been talking to his wife on his hands-free mobile phone and the couple had been singing to try and keep him awake just before the collision. Dr Patel’s VW Golf ended up partly in a ditch after colliding head on with the lorry and spinning around.

Lorry driver Peter Stimpson said in a statement that he had seen Dr Patel’s car come around a bend and start to drift across to the wrong side of the road. Mr Stimpson said that he tried braking and pulling his lorry to one side of the road, but there was nothing he could do to avoid the impact.

Dr Patel, who was declared dead at the scene, sustained a broken neck and other injuries, said Assistant Suffolk Coroner Yvonne Blake.

Dr Patel had worked as a trainee anaesthetist at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital since February last year. It is believed that he had recently been working towards his anaesthetic Fellowship exams and it was felt he had a bright future ahead of him in medicine.