Reforms Drove NHS Manager To Leap Off Motorway Bridge

A hospital department head who threw herself to her death from a 100ft motorway bridge was driven to suicide by NHS reforms, an inquest was told yesterday. Morag Wilson, 32, a manager at Wythenshawe hospital, stabbed herself with a kitchen knife before jumping from the M60 into the Manchester ship canal.

An inquest heard that Ms Wilson, head of dietetics at the hospital, had been facing huge pressure at work from government reforms under the Agenda for Change review. The south Manchester coroner, John Pollard, urged the NHS to consider the impact of reforms on staff as he recorded a verdict of suicide following her death in December last year.

“I find it extremely sad that a young woman with such a lot going for her, very dedicated to her work, has been reduced to despair by the pressure upon her at work,” he said. “When people introduce these rules and systems perhaps a bit more thought as to what effect they will have on people would be helpful.”

The inquest heard how Ms Wilson, who lived in Sale, had found her position at work increasingly difficult because of the review, which resulted in her job being reclassified two grades higher and dieticians at other hospitals in the region being promoted by one grade. But dieticians working for her did not receive a pay rise, which led to resentment.

She lobbied her bosses on their behalf but staff were told there was no extra money. The inquest also heard that she was upset by a failing student who had complained that she had allegedly suffered discrimination at the hospital.

Ms Wilson’s father, Neil, from Aberdeenshire, told the inquest that he had seen the pressure she was under when he visited her in December to hear her sing in a hospital choir at the Bridgewater Hall. He said she had told him that as soon as she walked into the staff room, her colleagues would stop talking. “They made her feel as if possibly she was to blame for them not being upgraded. They made her feel so bad on tea breaks she took her tea into her office. Some staff members were saying: ‘We are not going to stay here. We are going to look for other jobs’.”

He said he found his daughter being physically sick because she was so worried about a meeting with a failing student on December 13. After the meeting, she said she was disappointed because the student had been hostile.

She had planned to drive her father back to Manchester airport the next morning, but when he heard her move around the house at 5am, he went back to sleep. He was woken half an hour later by a phone call, but no one spoke.

Minutes later, police found her Vauxhall Vectra abandoned on the hard shoulder at Barton Bridge, near the Trafford centre. Police found a kitchen knife in her handbag. When officers arrived at her home, her father was filing a missing persons report. Her body was found four hours later by frogmen. Naomi Carter, the pathologist who examined her body, found stab wounds which she said were self-inflicted and not life-threatening.

Ms Wilson’s family received more than 350 cards and letters after her death, many from her colleagues. They later attended a memorial service at the hospital. Mr Wilson said: “She had so many friends – she was very sociable. She had booked a holiday; she had plans for the house. It was totally unexpected.”

A spokesman for Wythenshawe hospital said: “Morag was a popular and highly respected friend and colleague. Her death was a profound shock.”

He said she had given no indication to her manager or the trust that she was suffering from work pressures and had shown no obvious signs of stress.