Harold Shipman Case study


Place Your Question Here

Harold Shipman Case Study

Harold Shipman


Type of Industry

Medicine and Health Care


London, United Kingdom



Area Served

Across England

Number of Stores





Thorough knowledge of medicines

Target Group

Patients under direct care


Health services



Harold Shipman Case study Introduction

One of the most notorious serial killers the human society has ever witnessed, Harold Shipman worked as a medical doctor in England. Before getting arrested in 2000, Shipman, the infamous British serial killer, was reported to have killed more than 200 of his patients. A jury found Harold Shipman guilty of murder of 15 patients under his care in 2000 and he was sentenced to life imprisonment with the recommendation that he should never be released. He died in 2004 leaving behind a horrific story of man slaughtering. The Harold Shipman case study should be conducted to ascertain the grimness and inhumanity ingrained in Shipman’s nature and to strengthen the Harold Shipman case study a thorough SWOT and PESTLE analysis will be performed.

Harold Shipman SWOT


One of the primary strength of Harold Shipman, as the Harold Shipman case study revealed, was his thorough knowledge of the medical loopholes that could have been utilized in the process of killing innocent patients. Moreover, being a medical practitioner, it was quite known to Shipman how to wrongly utilize the medical regime for killing an individual. Another major strength of Shipman was his stability in terms of repeatedly and systematically murdering his patients under his care and supervision (Smith, 2002). Shipman, as the Harold Shipman case study revealed, used to kill by design and not by error (Smith, 2002), and this added to the brutality of his objectives, purposes and devilish goals. Moreover, Shipman’s higher social status (attributed by his profession) also provided social advantage to him in terms of victimizing innocent patients.


Overconfidence on his skill and technique of killing innocent patients under his care should be considered as the primary weakness of Shipman. The Harold Shipman case study revealed that, it was Shipman’s overconfidence and his lack of ability to control his inhuman impulses that eventually paved the way for the law to get its hands over him. Moreover, Shipman’s lack of farsighted outlook should also be considered as his weakness. This can be argued by citing the fact that he failed to understand that the clinical practices that he employed to kill patients could eventually be evaluated in the long-run, halting his devilish pattern of killing serially in the long-run.


Being a medical practitioner was the primary opportunity that Shipman had in terms of taking lives of innocent patients who thoroughly believed and trusted in him. The Harold Shipman case study revealed that, by the dint of his social status, Shipman secured the opportunity of alluring more individuals under his medical care, and this provided him with the scope of killing more patients callously and intentionally. Besides, as the Harold Shipman case study revealed, the prevalent culture in the NHS that discourages doctors to criticize the actions and malpractices of fellow doctors also provided opportunities to Shipman to systematically kill his patients (Smith, 2002).


The primary threat to Shipman’s evil practices was the Ethical Code of Conduct of the NHS and the immaculate law enforcement environment of the United Kingdom. The investigative power of the law enforcement agents of the United Kingdom should also be considered as a threat that was initially overlooked by Shipman, paving the way for his eventual downfall and arrest. Moreover, the monitoring and controlling strategies prevalent in the United Kingdom to ensure safety and security in medical practices also acted as a potential threat to Shipman’s evil objectives, but Shipman undermined it, and this ultimately led to his arrest in the long run.

Harold Shipman PESTLE Analysis

Political Environment

Political environment often determines the nature of a crime and in the case of Shipman; it was the stable political condition of the United Kingdom that provided opportunities to Shipman to exploit the trusts and faiths of his patients. The Harold Shipman case study revealed that, lack of effective opposition to the then existing government made it politically impossible for the opposition to compel the government to ensure a stringent NHS framework that could have prevented Shipman from by-passing the weak regulatory controls and thereby, from killing innocent patients under his care (Smith, 2002). Moreover, the inclination of the government to undermine the need of strengthening the laws guiding medical practices also provided opportunities to Shipman to kill more patients under his care.

Economic Environment

The affluent economic environment of the United Kingdom made financially secured patients more willing to go for frequent medical treatments. This provided chances to Shipman to allure more patients under his care to receive medical services from him. This, in turn, made it easier for Shipman to sustain his systematic killing spree for long.

Social/Socio-Cultural Environment

The existing social structure of the United Kingdom puts medical practitioner on a higher position in the social ladder. This provided ample opportunities to medical practitioners in the United Kingdom to either utilize the socio-economic and cultural resources to the benefit of the patients or to their own benefit. The socio-cultural environment of the United Kingdom, as revealed by the Harold Shipman case study, compelled his patients to have thorough faith in him, and this blind trust allowed Shipman to breach the ethics of medical practicing and to eventually kill his patients systematically and with a purpose.

Technological Environment

The technological environment that prevailed at the time in which Shipman used to practice as a medical doctor provided opportunities to Shipman to kill patients under his care. The Harold Shipman case study revealed that, improvements in medical technology allowed medical practitioners in the United Kingdom to gain more access to lethal injections (Jenkins, n.d.), and this provided ample chance to Shipman to inject most of his victims with a lethal dose of the painkiller diamorphine and then eventually sign a death certificate relating the death to some unspecific natural causes (Jenkins, n.d.).

Legal Environment

The nature of legal environment has been often observed to have contributed to the degree of heinousness in which a serial killer killed. In this respect, it has to be noted that lack of stringent regulations for monitoring the medical practicing of individual doctors in the United Kingdom during the time in which Shipman used to practice, provided opportunities to Shipman to break the law and breach the code of ethics of medical practice in the quest of murdering innocent patients under his care (Smith, 2002).

Environmental Factors

The evil practice of serial killing indulged by Harold Shipman eventually polluted the medical environment in terms of losing the faith of the patients and the belief of the patients in the sacredness and ethics of medical practicing. This, in turn, paved the way for the development of more stringent monitoring policies that eventually promoted a healthy and ethical environment in which the patients in the United Kingdom today obtain care from the medical practitioners and other health care providers.

Need Full Solution?

Request a FREE quote now!

Ask Now


Jenkins, J.P. (n.d.). Harold Shipman: British Physician and Serial Killer. Retrieved September 3, 2019, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Harold-Shipman

Smith, D. (2002). Not by Error, But by Design - Harold Shipman and the Regulatory Crisis for Health Care. Public Policy and Administration, 17(4), 55-74.

GET 20% OFF On your first Harold Shipman Case study Order Now