Doctor 'calm' after death of elderly patient

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The Independent Online

A receptionist described yesterday how a GP continued to treat three patients while one of his alleged victims was lying dead in his treatment room.

A receptionist described yesterday how a GP continued to treat three patients while one of his alleged victims was lying dead in his treatment room.

Harold Shipman's receptionist, Carol Chapman, said he seemed "red and flushed" when emerging from the room into which he had led Ivy Lomas, 63, in May 1997. He was in the room with her for 20 minutes and apologised when he emerged, saying he had had trouble with the electrocardiograph machine, said Mrs Chapman. He then saw three other patients.

Mrs Chapman told Preston Crown Court that Dr Shipman was "calm" as he later called her in and broke the news of Mrs Lomas' death. She said: "He never got worked up about anything. He was always calm to keep us calm, I think.

"He told me he had tried to put Mrs Lomas on the ECG machine but he thought it wasn't working because he couldn't get a reading and he realised she had died." The doctor also claimed he tried resuscitation without success, she said.

Dr Shipman, 53, of Mottram near Hyde, Greater Manchester, denies murdering 15 of his women patients by lethal injections of morphine and forging the £386,000 will of one. Dr Shipman told police Mrs Lomas had died of natural causes after complaining of bronchial problems, though an examination of her exhumed body proved an injection of morphine killed her, the court was told.

Detective Sergeant Philip Reade, who was called to the surgery, said Dr Shipman called Mrs Lomas "a nuisance" as her next of kin were difficult to contact. In contrast to Mrs Chapman's account, Sergeant Reade said the doctor told him he had not tried to resuscitate Mrs Lomas. He was "amazed" at this as she might only have taken her last breath just before he re-entered the room.

Mrs Lomas's neighbour, Charles Hill, said she suffered from asthma, had a bad heart and had told him she had pains in her arms and chest on the day she died.

Dr John Grenville, an independent GP, said: "I would not have left this patient until I was sure she was in safe hands."

The trial continues.

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