A HOSPITAL consultant who was found hanging at his home had a history of depression and anxiety, a coroner was told in Dorchester.

West Dorset coroner Michael Johnston heard that ear nose and throat surgeon Mark O'Donnell, 42, had been diagnosed with depression.

A report by the consultant's GP Dr Stephen Scott stated that Mr O'Donnell first sought treatment for stress in 1996 and revealed his childhood in Ireland was anxious because of academic pressure.

But it was from early 2005, nearly three years after he started work at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester, that depression was diagnosed.

He was treated at the Priory Hospital at Southampton by consultant psychologist Dr Graham Gallimore and underwent cognitive behavioural therapy and treatment with anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs.

Later he declined to undergo further cognitive behavioural therapy, though he did continue with medication.

He was identified as having long-standing paranoid delusions, felt isolated and was considered at risk of self-harm.

Dr Gallimore found that Mr O'Donnell would embark on ambitious research projects that eventually fell through.

He continued to see Mr O'Donnell as an outpatient.

Mr O'Donnell cancelled an outpatient appointment in August this year, stating that he felt well and had no suicidal thoughts. He saw Dr Gallimore in early October and said he had some anxieties relating to his surgical procedures but did not want to restart drugs treatment for it, though he agreed to be seen by a local psychologist.

His next appointment with Dr Gallimore was in early November, but Mr O'Donnell's wife rang for an urgent app-ointment before then and one was arranged for October 18.

But Mr O'Donnell cancelled it that day and was found dead at home.

PC Rebecca Ford told the coroner that she was called to the house and found paramedics trying to resuscitate Mr O'Donnell.

She said she spoke to Mrs O'Donnell, who said she had had lunch with her husband and gone into Dorchester for a course.

The course was cancelled so she returned home, saw her husband's car and searched the house for him, eventually finding him hanging from the rafters in the garage.

PC Ford said no note from Mr O'Donnell was found.

Consultant pathologist Dr John Mikel gave the cause of death as hanging. No alcohol or drug was present.

Mr Johnston said: "There is a background of depression which had been going on for two or three years on and off.

"Each time Mr O'Donnell had seen Dr Gallimore he had denied any suicidal ideas but on October 18, when he should have had an appointment, he cancelled and he was found hanging in the garage.

"It's difficult to understand why that should be when help was on offer."

He said Mr O'Donnell clearly arranged the hanging but there was no evidence that he intended to take his own life. He recorded an open verdict.

Jan Bergman, chief executive of the hospital foundation trust, paid tribute to Mr O'Donnell. He said: "Mark was a very good, highly thought of doctor."