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Independents' Day

Shipman inquiry should ask: do carers get away with murder?


I have been reading your report on the Shipman inquiry (July 21) and am encouraged to tell you of a recent problem I faced. The reason it may be relevant is there seems to be no consideration in the inquiry about how murderous relatives or carers could get away with it.

Perhaps these are more likely culprits than GPs for intentional killings. I was asked to sign a death certificate and crem form on someone I had seen for no more than 10 minutes when the patient was terminally ill. The notes did not make it clear what the subject was dying of and I suggested I could not do it and informed the coroner.

The relatives became very angry, indulged in the emotional blackmail of refusing to leave surgery until I changed my mind, and I found no support from either a senior partner, who didn't know why I did not sign, or the coroner, whose secretary also didn't know why.

I eventually gave way because nobody seemed interested in the dilemma and signed for a possible cause of death and old age. On the crem form it did not seem to matter that I had only known the patient for 10 minutes!

Unless the system is improved, taken out of the hands of anyone but the patient's usual doctor and backed up by the coroner service, plenty of carers could get away with murder.

Dr PE Schur


Shipman Inquiry

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