According to the findings of an independent report, more than 450 Gosport Hospital deaths were caused by an opioid policy where patients received unnecessary medication.
Dr Jane Barton, a GP who worked at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital for more than 12 years, has been linked to the 456 deaths that took place in the 1990s as a result of life-shortening diamorphine; otherwise known as heroine.
Despite warnings from nurses working at the hospital, the dangerous opioid-use policy was reportedly in place for years. Consultants and other healthcare professionals are also being blamed for failing to speak out when there was clear evidence of malpractice; including pharmacists who would have known by the levels and nature of the drugs being used that something wasn’t right.
Gosport Hospital deaths: a long overdue inquiry
Families of patients who died under the care of Dr Barton at the Gosport Hospital have been campaigning for decades for an independent inquiry into the standards of care and the practices undertaken at the hospital.
Patients were reportedly being prescribed the life-shortening opioid diamorphine (heroine) even though they were not in pain, and the drugs were administered using a syringe-driver attached to a patient’s back to ensure a constant dose was delivered; which is said to have been highly unusual.
In 2010, Dr Barton was found guilty of serious professional misconduct over the deaths of 12 patients, but she was allowed to continue to practice.
As a result of the independent inquiry, the NHS and the Government has recognised the anguish and responsibilities of those involved and has apologised for the scandal; but this will not bring back the patients whose lives may have been shortened or lost as a result of the opioid-use policy.
1,500 Gosport Hospital deaths investigated
1,500 Gosport Hospital deaths were reviewed as part of the independent report. The results confirmed that 456 patients were inappropriately administered the life-shortening drugs that they didn’t need, with an additional 200 patients who may also have had their lives shortened.
Potential criminal proceedings against Dr Barton for her practices, and for other healthcare professionals who had the opportunity to speak out and prevent further loss of life, is a possibility. The findings of the report, although welcomed by the families who have been fighting for their voices to be heard for years, will do little to reverse the damage that has been done.
From a legal perspective, we’re investigating the legal issues surrounding the Gosport Hospital deaths, and anyone who is in need of independent legal advice and representation can contact the team here.