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GMC bullish on post-Shipman future

Two of the six GPs who countersigned Harold Shipman's cremation forms have been cleared of serious professional misconduct after the GMC failed to produce enough evidence to prove its case.

Dr Peter Bennett and Dr Rajesh Patel were accused of failing to notice inconsistencies and contradictions in Shipman's forms.

But a GMC fitness to practise panel threw out the cases against the two, saying their actions represented a single incident in otherwise unblemished careers. Each GP only signed one form for Shipman.

GPs have accused the GMC of scapegoating the six doctors for the failure of the system to detect Shipman.

The case against the remaining four GPs ­ Dr Ste-phen Farrar, Dr Alastair Mac-Gillivray, Dr Jeremy Dirckze and Dr Susan Booth, who has now retired ­ will continue next year.

The panel found many of the charges against them could not be supported by evidence.

But it said the GPs should have recognised and acted on evidence of a pattern of deaths where patients had either died alone, in the presence of Shipman, soon after a visit by him, or where no ambulance was called. The GPs signed between 19 and 37 of Shipman's forms each.

In a joint statement Dr Bennet and Dr Patel said they were 'relieved' at the outcome.

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