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PCOs get code on visits

GPs have condemned the GMC for bringing misconduct charges against six GPs who blew the whistle on Harold Shipman.

GPC negotiators attacked the council for making 'scapegoats' of the GPs, who were censured by the Shipman Inquiry last year for failing to detect Shipman's unusually high death rates earlier.

Dr Peter Bennett and Dr Susan Booth, who have both now retired, and Dr Jeremy Dirckze, Dr Stephen Farrar, Dr Alastair MacGillivray and Dr Rajesh Patel between them counter-signed the cremation certificates of 214 of Shipman's patients.

The GPs said they were 'shocked and stunned' at the serious professional misconduct charges, which came after a year-long investigation by the GMC triggered by the inquiry's findings.

GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said the GPs should not be 'made scapegoats for faults that lay in the system rather than with them as individuals'.

He pointed out that inquiry chair Dame Janet Smith said in her report that she 'did not criticise the Hyde doctors personally' and they 'were no worse than countless of their colleagues'.

Dr Meldrum said: 'The [Brooke] practice raised concerns some time before Shipman was arrested. It is particularly ironic these doctors are among those now facing serious professional charges. We recognise the considerable stress these investigations will be causing these GPs and continue to offer our support.'

Dr Patel and Dr Dirckze, who along with Dr Mac-Gillivray still practise in Hyde, accepted that the GMC had

a duty to 'look into these

matters'.

But Dr Dirckze said he was shocked by the degree of the charges and that he and his colleagues were 'bearing the brunt' of it all.

'The fact that we were in the end the whistleblowers makes it even more difficult,' he said.

Dr Patel said patients at the Brooke surgery, many of whom were affected by Shipman's crimes, had also given their support.

By Cato Pedder

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