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2 February 2000

MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS' UNION SUPPORTS GOVERNMENT
MOVES TO RESTORE PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN GPs

The Medical Practitioners' Union, which represents 2,000 GPs and other doctors, has come out in support of the Government's measures deigned to restore public confidence in the profession in the wake of Dr Harold Shipman's conviction for mass murder.

Dr Ron Singer, the vice-president of the MPU, said: "Shipman does not represent the moral and ethical code of all doctors, GPs or single handed practitioners any more than the Yorkshire Ripper represented Yorkshire men as a whole."

The government has already proposed closer appraisal and revalidation of all doctors which the MPU supports. Deficiencies in the way prescribing is monitored, deaths are certificated and cremations authorised have been revealed and should be changed.

Dr Singer said: "The Shipman case does highlight how much power and opportunity to do wrong is available to doctors; a situation they have been placed in placed in by society. However, the likelihood of another Shipman-like serial killer emerging in the next 20 years is small."

The MPU agrees with some of the BMA's suggestions. For example, the use of IT for death certification and cremations to highlight unexpected clusters of specific types or modes of death by area or by practitioner.

MPU would also suggest the pooling of information between undertakers, community pharmacists, health authorities and the new primary care organisations, such as primary care groups in England.

Dr Singer added: "The change in the perception of doctors by the public from heroic, all-knowing gods to the evil man in Shipman's surgery has been dramatic. The country's 33,000 GPs are by and large a well-trained and highly motivated workforce. They merit neither uncritical acclaim nor universal criticism."

Their work should be scrutinised and their working conditions made safer both from the point of view of protecting the public and protecting them from unreachable expectations.

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NOTE TO NEWS EDITORS

Dr Singer can be contacted on 0181 804 5422.

MSF Press Officer, Shaun Noble 0171 939 7043/ mobile 0468 69 39 40

Enclosed is a fact sheet about controlled drugs

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