Dorset County Hospital consultant took his own life after complaining of stress

Dorset Echo: SURGEON AND INVENTOR: Rob Fuller SURGEON AND INVENTOR: Rob Fuller

AN AWARD-WINNING hospital consultant hanged himself after complaining of stress at work, an inquest heard.

Renowned eye surgeon John Fuller – known as Rob – had also become depressed about an ongoing building project at his luxury home, Dorset Coroner Sheriff Payne was told.

The inquest heard that Mr Fuller, who was an opthalmic consultant surgeon at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester, had suffered from depression over several years before he was found hanged in the garage of his property in Lower Blandford Road, Broadstone, on October 13 last year.

His partner, Tracy Glen, told the coroner that Mr Fuller, 49, also worked in private hospitals, including The Harbour Hospital in Poole.

She said Mr Fuller, who owned properties in New Zealand and in Plymouth, refused to take medication for depression because he did not want to adversely affect his career.

Miss Glen added: “He was very popular with the majority of his colleagues, junior doctors and patients.”

And she said he had felt under stress when a number of colleagues left Dorset County Hospital Opthalmology department at the same time.

The inquest heard Mr Fuller bought the Broadstone property, Southwood, more than three years ago and wanted to extend it to accommodate his elderly mother.

“The building work went wrong and equipment was stolen from the site” said Miss Glen. The coroner was told that shortly before Mr Fuller’s death, concern was expressed for his welfare by the building project manager and a complaint had been made against him at work.

Recording a verdict that Mr Fuller took his own life, Mr Payne said: “He was highly successful in his career. He had brought the Dorset County Hospital up to clinical excellence standard, but hidden in the background there had been some depression.”

After the inquest, a spokesman for Dorset County Hospital said: “We have established systems to assess solutions to stress in the workplace.”

Chief executive of Dorset County Hospital Jean O’Callaghan said: “Rob was a well liked and respected member of the eye department team. He contributed an enormous amount towards improving services for our patients during his time at Dorset County Hospital and will be greatly missed.”

  • ROB Fuller gained world renown for inventing electric goggles that could help people with dry eyes. Dry eyes occur when the eyes either don’t produce enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly.

In a third of cases, it is caused by glands in the eyelids, which secrete oils. The new Blephasteam goggles deliver steam directly into the eyes, melting the waxy oil in the eye to improve its natural oil secretions.

Mr Fuller came up with the idea when he was persuaded to try a steam bath while visiting his brother Tom in New Zealand. Tears are formed of three layers, one of which is oily.

He persuaded Tom, who was a design engineer, to create the prototype for the Blephasteam goggles that were then used in clinical trials at Dorset County Hospital.

Because of the low heat, the amount of moisture produced doesn’t steam up the lenses so users can watch TV or read while wearing them.

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