Gosport War Memorial Hospital: Families want criminal charges over painkiller deaths



The senior management of the hospital, healthcare organisations, Hampshire Constabulary, local politicians, the coronial system, the Crown Prosecution Service, the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) all failed to act in ways that would have better protected patients and relatives, whose interests some subordinated to the reputation of the hospital and the professions involved.

Police focused their previous investigation exclusively on Dr Barton.

A damning culture of failure across the United Kingdom health system was revealed Wednesday after an inquiry found that the lives of more than 450 people were cut short after staff administered powerful sedatives without regard for patient safety.

The 387-page report concluded that 456 patients were given opioids without justification and "probably at least another 200 patients similarly affected but whose clinical notes were not found".

In 2010, the General Medical Council ruled that Dr Jane Barton, who has since retired, was guilty of multiple instances of professional misconduct relating to 12 patients who died at the hospital.

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, apologised for the "catalogue of failures" by the Department of Health, the police, and the NHS at that time, and the harm caused to the families.

"When the relatives complained about the safety of patients and the appropriateness of their care, they were consistently let down by those in authority - both individuals and institutions".

"The Secretary of State will want to ensure that families who believe they were affected by events at the hospital have the support they deserve going forward, and also to consider wider lessons".

Bishop James Jones, who led the Gosport War Memorial Hospital inquiry panel, holds a copy of the "Gosport War memorial Hospital: The Report of the Gosport Independent Panel", outside Portsmouth Cathedral in Portsmouth, Britain, June 20, 2018.

There was an "institutionalised regime" of prescribing and administering "dangerous" amounts of a medication not clinically justified at the Hampshire hospital, the report said.

The panel found that the inappropriate use of opioids began in 1989 and steadily increased until 1994.

The Panel has listened to the families and the documents now highlighted in its report reveal what those documents add to public understanding. "It became institutionalised on the wards", the panel said. In addition, consultants who "were aware" of the opioid administration "did not intervene to stop the practice". The records show that the nurses did not discharge that responsibility and continued to administer the drugs prescribed.

"It is important that a process is put in place to ensure that all of the relevant agencies come together, to enable decisions about next steps to be made in a way that is well considered and transparent to all of the families".

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