A BODY was found by police in the hunt for a missing Hampshire doctor.

During searches for Dr Peter Betts, a retired consultant paediatrician at Southampton General Hospital, police discovered a body on Monday night.

Dr Betts had been reported missing from his Winchester home earlier in the day.

A Hampshire Police statement said formal identification had not yet taken place but Dr Betts’s family had been informed.

Tributes have been paid to the 76-year-old, who initially split his time between Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester and Southampton General Hospital before moving to the latter permanently in 1989.

Dr Derek Sandeman, medical director at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Peter Betts was an inspirational paediatrician who worked here for more than 20 years, led the development of paediatric and child protection services and was a key figure in the development of the unit.

“He also established a centre of excellence in paediatric endocrinology and diabetes and was recognised nationally and internationally for his skills and expertise.

“He will be well to known to many staff members and impacted massively on many children and their families.

“He was a gifted teacher and mentor and was loved by everyone. He will be very sadly missed and our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

Dr Betts, of Compton in Winchester, retired in 2005 at the age of 62 after 27 years at Southampton hospital.

His role as a consultant saw him look after hundreds of children with diabetes, glandular and growth problems.

Dr Betts’s work included being part of many national committees, particular those regarding diabetes, and he was even involved in helping set standards for diabetes care nationally.

Speaking to the Daily Echo when he retired, Dr Betts, a father and grandfather, said: “I have done a lot of different jobs over the years and I have seen a lot of big changes.

“The paediatrics department has always been a happy department and a great place to work.”

He added: “I am happy to retire. I have had a fantastic time and I have enjoyed it all and now I think it is time to go.”

The police statement said: “We are not treating the death as suspicious and a file is being prepared for the coroner.”

“We would like to thank everyone who helped support our investigation and shared our appeals.”