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Doctor suspended over Shipman case
Press conference
West Pennine health bosses faced the press
A doctor involved in investigating Dr Harold Shipman before he was arrested has been suspended by West Pennine Health Authority.

Dr Alan Banks, medical adviser to the health authority, is suspended while an inquiry takes place into the circumstances surrounding the case.

Dr Banks was responsible for examining Shipman's patients' records during a prior police inquiry in March 1998. Shipman was arrested later that year.


The health authority has fairly limited powers in terms of monitoring GPs

David Common, chief executive West Pennine Health Authority
But the Health Authority said it had done everything within its powers to monitor the performance of Shipman, convicted of murdering 15 of his patients.

David Common, chief executive of the health authority, said after the verdict: "Dr Shipman is revealed by this case as a cunning and dysfunctional individual who manipulated a situation based on trust.

Shocked and saddened

David Common
David Common: 'Shipman was a dysfunctional individual'
"We have emerged from this deeply shocked and saddened by these events."

But he added: "The health authority has fairly limited powers in terms of monitoring GPs - they are independent practitioners who are self-employed.

"We have to define the performance management systems so any concerns in the future will be picked up quickly."

The health authority defended its decision not to ask the General Medical Council if Shipman had any previous convictions, saying this was not within the remit of the organisation.

And it said, though Shipman was a heavy prescriber, he did not dish out large amounts of opiates - the type of drug he killed his patients with.

Jan Forster
Jan Forster said monitoring procedures were not designed to detect mass murderers
Jan Forster, director of primary care for the West Pennine region, said: "Shipman is a unique and aberrant individual. The health authority is not set up to find murderers."

Mr Common called for an overhaul of rules surrounding cremations, saying the second doctor required to sign the form should also have a duty to check patient records and speak with the family of the dead person.

The coroner should be required to publish an annual report showing the number of post mortems required by GPs - Shipman requested none in the two years before his arrest.

An advice line has been set up and counselling will be offered to families of Shipman's victims.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
David Common
"Shipman was cunning and dysfunctional"
Find out more about the Shipman murders

Trial and reaction

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

31 Jan 00 | Health
31 Jan 00 | Health
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