Shipman: I lied about death of patient

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DR HAROLD Shipman admitted yesterday that he lied about a patient he left dead in an examination room at his surgery. The GP emerged from the room after Ivy Lomas's death, told his receptionist, Carol Chapman, that he was experiencing technical difficulties with a piece of medical equipment, and then went on to treat three more patients, Preston Crown Court was told.

Richard Henriques, for the prosecution, has told the jury that Dr Shipman murdered Mrs Lomas, 53, in the room by a lethal dose of diamorphine on 29 May 1997. Yesterday he said to the GP: "You told [Mrs Chapman] a bare-faced lie."

"It wasn't the truth," Dr Shipman conceded. "To stand there and say a patient was dead was not in the best interests of the patients who had been waiting to see me. And it was breaking patient confidentiality."

"Is it very right," Mr Henriques asked, "for a doctor to tell untruths to employees at surgery?"

Dr Shipman replied: "On occasions, yes. And this was one occasion." Dr Shipman said he chose not to alert Mrs Chapman by using the surgery's internal telephone, but denied being at fault by not raising the alarm or calling an ambulance.

Dr Shipman, 53, who was in the witness box for a ninth day, has pleaded not guilty to murdering 15 women with lethal morphine injections and forging the pounds 386,000 will of one of them.

Dr Shipman, of Mottram, Greater Manchester, had recorded Mrs Lomas's time of death as 14.45 when it should have been 16.45 because he had made a mistake with his computer's 24-hour clock. He originally stated that Mrs Lomas had died of a heart attack but in the light of the toxicology results he agreed yesterday that she must have died from morphine poisoning.

Mr Henriques asked Dr Shipman: "If this lady died at 4.10 pm, she must have been administered, or administered to herself, diamorphine between 4pm and 4.10pm, mustn't she?" The defendant replied: "You could put the evidence that way, and yes I would agree."

He agreed that he did not leave the company of Mrs Lomas while she was at the surgery. Mr Henriques said: "Dr Shipman, there is no sensible explanation is there?"

The GP said: "I do not know of any explanation." Mr Henriques said: "It's unprofessional to leave someone for dead in the back room." Dr Shipman said there was no "terrible rush" once a patient had died. He denied waiting for Mrs Lomas to die to avoid handing her over to local hospital doctors who would detect the morphine in her body.

The trial continues.