Harold Shipman nurse was ‘haunted’ for 30 years after horror shift

A nurse who worked alongside serial killer Harold Shipman has revealed she has been "haunted" for 30 years after three patients died during a night shift together.

Sandra Whitehead was just 18 at the time and blames her naivety for not reporting the deaths to hospital staff at Pontefract General infirmary in 1972.

She explains that the patients who died during the shift were ill but hadn’t seemed like they were on "death’s door" and that she had noticed that it had seemed like an unusually high number of deaths at the time.

Sandra speaks for the first time on TV in new ITV documentary Harold Shipman: Doctor Death on the 20th anniversary of the serial killer’s death.


"One night we had three deaths, we just went from room to room and the patient had died," she recalls. It just didn’t seem any reason. They were ill but they didn’t look on death’s door.

"It just seemed a high proportion of deaths out of a 32-bedded ward. I think I was too young and too naïve, I didn’t have the knowledge and experience to maybe turn round and see senior management and say, ‘I am not happy about this.’"

However Sandra later provided information that led to a public inquiry which investigated Shipman’s time at Pontefract General and his other victims were uncovered.


Shipman gained notoriety for becoming Britain’s biggest serial killer after secretly murdering and poisoning more than 250 of his patients over three decades.

He was eventually arrested in 1998.

A former detective also revealed that he had believed that Shipman would have been struck off the General Medical Council back in 1975 – before a number of the murders – after finding out that the doctor had a drug addiction.

George McKeating said: "The chairman says he doesn’t think he’s a danger to the public so he’s not going to strike him off, so I was a bit flabbergasted to say the least. In my experience addicts very rarely rehabilitate."

*Harold Shipman: Doctor Death ITV airs tonight at 9pm on ITV

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