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Shipman recommendations rejected

Ministers have rejected Shipman Inquiry recommendations to refer all deaths to the coroner.

Announcing proposals for reform of the coroners' service Harriet Harman, minister for constitutional affairs, said the move may not best serve families wanting to proceed with funeral arrangements. Instead, families will have the right to ask for a second opinion on a suspicious death.

Coroners will also have to be legally qualified and do the work as their sole job, but will have greater powers to obtain evidence and have a dedicated medical service available.

Dame Janet Smith, chair of the now-closed Shipman Inquiry, told a committee of MPs that the reforms would do nothing to stop another Shipman.

She said: 'If these reforms go through there could still be a Shipman out there, still killing patients, still certifying their deaths, handing MCCDs to the member of the family who takes it to the Registrar's Office to register the death.'

GPs said Dame Janet's original plans were 'completely disproportionate'.

Dr Krishna Korlipara, a GP in Bolton and GMC member, said: 'It can only come from someone who is eminent but has not the slightest insight into how medical diagnoses are reached and how doctors work in a normal setting.'

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