Serious Failures to Protect Individuals From Abuse
Harold Shipman graduated from Leeds school of medicine in 1970, and moved to Todmorden in 1974 to practice as a GP. In 1975 he was caught forging prescriptions for pethidine for his own use, and was fined £600 and ordered to attend a drug rehabilitation clinic. For the following years, he worked in several temporary jobs before securing a position as a GP in 1977 and eventually setting up his own surgery in Hyde in 1993. Dr. Linda Reynolds of Brooke Street Surgery in Hyde reported to the coroner in March 1998 that she and Deborah Massey from Frank Massey and Son’s Funeral Parlour both had concerns about the high death rate of Harold Shipman’s patients. A particular area of concern was the number of cremation forms for elderly women that needed to be countersigned, and Dr. Reynolds believed Harold Shipman was responsible for their deaths. The matter was brought to the attention of the police, but they were unable to find enough evidence to press charges. The Shipman Inquiry later blamed the police for assigning inexperienced officers to the case, the first failing of the authorities which led to a further 3 people being killed before Shipman was eventually arrested and convicted. Shipman’s last victim was found dead at her home on 24th June 1998. He was the last person to see her alive, and signed her death certificate recording ‘old age’ as the cause of death. The victim’s daughter became concerned when a solicitor informed her that a will had been made by her mother, leaving everything to Shipman and nothing to her or her children. This was reported to the police who began an investigation, during which the victim’s body was exhumed and found to contain traces of diamorphine. When investigating other deaths that Shipman had certified, they discovered a pattern of him administering lethal overdoses of diamorphine, signing the patient’s death certificates and then forging their medical records to...
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