Shipman may have killed 137 as trainee

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The Independent Online

Harold Shipman, the doctor responsible for the murder of hundreds of patients, may have killed a further 137 people during his medical training.

Harold Shipman, the doctor responsible for the murder of hundreds of patients, may have killed a further 137 people during his medical training.

The deaths, which took place between 1970 and 1974 while Shipman worked at the Pontefract General Infirmary, West Yorkshire, are being investigated to determine whether they were unlawful killings.

The link to as many as 137 deaths during Shipman's medical training at the hospital came to light as it was announced that the sixth report of the Shipman inquiry will be published next Thursday.

The inquiry is expected to reveal how many of the deaths were unlawful killings as well as investigate claims of a former prison inmate in relation to an alleged confession from Shipman, 57, who was found hanged in his cell in January last year. He was jailed for life in 2000 at Preston Crown Court after being convicted of the murder of 15 patients.

The inquiry was set up on the orders of the Government the following year in order to investigate further the deaths, which spanned a 23-year period, and to protect the safety of future patients. The findings of the inquiry, chaired by Dame Janet Smith, have already revealed that the former GP murdered at least 215 patients with lethal injections.

It was in April last year that the Shipman inquiry first revealed it was launching an investigation into patient deaths in relation to Shipman's time as a trainee doctor in West Yorkshire.

At the time, it revealed that a health professional who worked with Shipman at the Pontefract General Infirmary had "expressed concerns".

The inquiry, which has taken 2,500 witness statements and 100,000 pages of evidence, said that it would examine medical reports and contact relatives of the dead.

The inquiry said yesterday in a statement: "The sixth report of the inquiry contains the decisions of the chairman into 137 deaths that occurred between 1970 and 1974, when Shipman worked at Pontefract General Infirmary."

The fifth report, published last month, investigated how Shipman was allowed to carry on practising by the General Medical Council despite being convicted of drug offences in 1976 after becoming addicted to pethidine as a young doctor.

The inquiry concluded that the GMC, the watchdog responsible for GPs, should be stripped of its right to judge misconduct cases. Dame Janet said that, in the past, the GMC had failed to protect patients.