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Prescribed Painkillers ‘Shortened 456 Lives’ at Gosport Hospital

A report has found that over 450 patients died at Gosport War Memorial Hospital after being given powerful painkillers that were not clinically justified.

It is also thought that a further 200 patients may have died as a result of these painkillers, as missing records are taken into account. The report announced a “disregard for human life” between 1989-2000 at the hospital, and that Dr Jane Barton supervised the “practice of prescribing” to patients on the wards during the time.

Medication was given to patients in “dangerous” quantities with no medical justification at the hospital, and Theresa May has apologised to the families of those impacted for the amount of time it has taken to get to this stage.

Up until now, Dr Jane Barton has faced disciplinary action over the failings of patients who were in her care between 1996 – 1999, however, she was not prosecuted and chose to retire after the findings came to light.

James Jones, former Bishop of Liverpool led the Gosport Independent Panel. He said, “The documents seen by the panel show that for a 12-year period a clinical assistant, Dr Barton, was responsible for the practice of prescribing which prevailed on the wards. Although the consultants were not involved directly in treating patients on the wards, the medical records show that they were aware of how drugs were prescribed and administered but did not intervene to stop the practice.”

The report highlighted that the families of those who died were “constantly let down” by both medical individuals and institutions when they made complaints regarding the treatment their loved ones had received.  

Bishop Jones said that it is not the responsibility of the Panel to assign “criminal or civil liability.” He said, “It will be for any future judicial processes to determine whatever culpability and criticism might be forthcoming.”

The deaths of 92 patients were investigated by police between 1998 – 2006, however, no prosecutions were ever brought as a result of the three inquiries that took place.

A spokesperson for the police, Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said that the police had fully cooperated with the Panel and had shared with them over 25,000 documents. Chief Constable Pinkney said, “We will assess any new information contained within the report in conjunction with our partners in health and the Crown Prosecution Service in order to decide the next steps.”

However, the report stated that it found the quality of the three investigations carried out by the Police to be “consistently poor.” The Panel said they believed that the police worked with a mindset of seeing any family members who raised concerns as “stirring up trouble” yet seeing the hospital as a place to go to for guidance and assurance during the inquiries.

Caroline Dinenage, Gosport MP has stated that many failures were highlighted within the report and has requested for the government to take any necessary action. She said, “I can’t even imagine what the families must be going through- it’s absolutely heart-breaking.”

 

BBC News. ‘Gosport Hospital Deaths: Prescribed Painkillers ‘Shortened 456 Lives.’” BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-44547788

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