Retired GP admits to helping patients die

A retired GP who hastened the deaths of at least 18 of his patients remains defiant over his actions, despite the prospect of a police investigation.

Watch an interview with Dr Martin

Last week the General Medical Council (GMC) ruled that Dr Howard Martin hastened the deaths of 18 of his patients by giving them excessive doses of morphine, and branded his conduct as “despicable and dangerous”.

The case is likely to fuel concern that any relaxation of the UK’s euthanasia laws would imperil the lives of the terminally ill.


In 2005 Dr Martin had previously faced trial for murdering three cancer patients, Harry Gittins, Frank Moss and Stanley Weldon, but was found not guilty.

Following the GMC’s decision last week Dr Martin decided to break his silence, and defiantly admitted killing some of his patients without their permission.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph the retired GP said: “I twice helped people die, not because they wanted to die but because they had such dreadful suffering.”


Dr Martin added: “There are times when you get called to people, maybe as a locum doctor, maybe as an emergency in their last day of life and you just don’t have the time to go through all that formality.

“I have to treat the situation as I find it. My conscience is clear. I don’t have anything to fear.”

The retired doctor told The Daily Telegraph that he had broken his silence to call for reforms to end of life care, but the families of some of his victims have called for the GP to be put on trial again.


Paul Gittins, whose father died following an injection from Dr Martin, said: “My dad had no intention of wanting to die, definitely not.”

Kevin Weldon, whose father also died after being treated by Dr Martin, said: “The police now have his confession and they should reopen this case.”

Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “What we try to do as GPs is support patients in their last hours, last days and if we’re finding that the patients are suffering unduly, we can refer and get expert advice from our palliative care colleagues.


“I’m horrified that the doctor seemed to indicate in the interview that he actually hastened the death of two patients without their consent – I’m speechless.”

The Police and Crown Prosecution Service are considering whether to launch an investigation.

As a result of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 Dr Martin could face a retrial if his comments are deemed as “fresh and viable” new evidence.


Earlier this week it was revealed that the number of euthanasia cases in Holland has increased by 13 per cent in one year.

Last year 2,636 Dutch people were killed by euthanasia, with 80 per cent of the victims dying at home after being administered with lethal drugs, whereas in 2008 this figure was 2,331.

The rise in euthanasia deaths has prompted the Dutch health ministry to relaunch an inquiry into the nation’s euthanasia laws.

Related Resources