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(en) Freedom 6315 (27th July) - Death by deference

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 9 Aug 2002 00:57:15 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

The enquiry into the case of Harold Shipman, convicted of
fifteen murders in 2001, reported on 19th July. Its findings run
to six volumes, but the main one is that he killed at least 215 of
his patients. The enquiry's chair, Dame Janet Smith, said that in
a further 45 cases 'a real suspicion arises that Shipman may have
been responsible, although the evidence is not sufficiently clear
for me to reach a positive conclusion that he was'.
Shipman killed his patients, mainly elderly women, by injecting
them with lethal drugs and then putting bogus but plausible
causes of death on their death certificates. He was caught after
he forged the will of the last person he killed, Kathleen Grundy.
Shipman is undoubtedly Britain's biggest serial killer, but the
enquiry could shed no light on his motives. There has been
much speculation about this in the media, though Shipman
himself is the only person who could reveal anything. He shows
no sign of telling.
The enquiry was pushed for by the families of his victims. It
uncovered an earlier, flawed investigation by police. It has
recommended administrative measures designed to make it
harder for a future Shipman to escape for so long. Relatives
spoke of betrayal, particularly as many also had Shipman as their
After Shipman's trial, Ian Bogle, chair of the British Medical
Association (BMA), said that doctors and coroners should be
given computer training to spot unusual trends in health
records. The BMA said in a statement: 'It is important to
acknowledge that it is difficult to conceive of any set of laws or
regulations that could have prevented the offences of which
Harold Shipman has been convicted'.
Doctors, judges and politicians can only conceive of dealing with
cases like this procedurally. But Shipman was finally stopped by
Angela Woodruff, Kathleen Grundy's daughter, who trusted her
instincts. The sad truth is that most of Shipman's victims came
from a generation that was deferential to doctors. Less
deference is definitely better for your health.
Martin H.

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