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Tuesday, 1 February, 2000, 16:34 GMT
Doctors must disclose criminal convictions

Alan Milburn Alan Milburn is determined to learn from the Shipman case

Doctors will be compelled to disclose criminal convictions and action taken against them by a professional body before they can be appointed to a medical list.

The Shipman murders
It will also be made compulsory for GPs to report deaths in their surgeries and other serious incidents to health authorities.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn announced the moves as part of a package of government measures designed to ensure that the Shipman murder case could never happen again.

"We owe it to the relatives and friends of those murdered by Harold Shipman to identify and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent a repetition of the terrible events witnessed in Hyde.
Health Secretary Alan Milburn
Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr Milburn said: "We owe it to the relatives and friends of those murdered by Harold Shipman to identify and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent a repetition of the terrible events witnessed in Hyde."

An independent inquiry into the Shipman case is to be established under the chairmanship of Lord Laming of Tewin, the former Chief Inspector of Social Services.

Mr Milburn said the inquiry would be comprehensive and inclusive, the victims' relatives would be able to present their views and the report would be made public.It is due for completion in the autumn.

The Health Secretary also announced that Home Secretary Jack Straw is to set up an urgent review on how to tighten up death certification procedures and the checks undertaken before cremation and burial.

Audit of Shipman's work

In addition, the Chief Medical Officer has been asked to oversee a clinical audit of Dr Shipman's past practice, covering the pattern of deaths, causes of deaths, prescription of restrictive drugs and relevant medical records.

The Health Secretary said he would act to close a loophole under which Dr Shipman could continue to be paid as a GP for another month despite his conviction.

In addition, he would take action to withdraw Dr Shipman's entitlement to an NHS pension.

Mr Milburn stressed that proposals for a new system to monitor and discipline GPs would be pushed through as quickly as possible.

Tory health spokesman Dr Liam Dr Fox welcomed Mr Milburn's announcement of an inquiry and said he hoped that the results would be debated in the Commons as soon as possible after it reported.

Labour's Tom Pendry (Stalybridge and Hyde) told Mr Milburn: "The statement you have announced to the House today will go a long way to give comfort to my constituents in Hyde and, in particular, those whose lives have been shattered by the actions of this evil man."

The British Medical Association welcomed the independent inquiry into the Shipman case, and Mr Milburn's other measures.

Dr John Chishol, chairman of the BMA's GP Committee, said: "The Secretary of State has avoided a knee jerk response. These actions are clearly in the public interest.

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See also:
01 Feb 00 |  UK
Shipman inquiry to examine doctors
01 Feb 00 |  Health
BMA demands reforms
01 Feb 00 |  Health
Dealing with criminal doctors
31 Jan 00 |  Health
GMC: Public confidence is damaged
31 Jan 00 |  Health
Doctor suspended over Shipman case

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