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Kate Stone

Posted 21 June 2018
by Kate Stone

Gosport Hospital deaths: Unnecessary prescription of painkillers “shortened 456 lives”.

Gosport Hospital deaths: Unnecessary prescription of painkillers "shortened 456 lives".

Kate Stone, medical negligence solicitor, notes that once again shocking events have been brought to light thanks to the efforts of diligent and courageous families who have consistently refused to accept what they were being told regarding the deaths of loved ones.

A substantial 370 page report has found that more than 450 patients had their lives shortened by inappropriate prescription of powerful painkillers at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire and that a further 200 patients may have suffered a similar fate.

The independent panel was led by former Bishop of Liverpool Rt Revd James Jones who also headed the Hillsborough enquiry.

The report found that from 1989 to 2000 there had been an “institutionalised regime” of prescribing and administering “dangerous” amounts of medication not clinically justified amounting to a “disregard for human life”.

The police had previously investigated the deaths of 92 patients during three inquiries between 1998 and 2000 but no prosecutions were brought and the panel found that the quality of these three investigations was “consistently poor”.

So far the only person to face any disciplinary action in connection with this has been Dr Jane Barton who oversaw the practice which prevailed on the wards of the inappropriate prescribing. She was found guilty of failings in her care of 12 patients at the hospital between 1996 and 1999 but no prosecutions were brought and she was not struck off the medical register, and continued to work as a GP at a Gosport Medical Centre until her retirement in 2010.

Although it was found that consultants at the hospital were not themselves directly involved in treating patients on the wards, the panel found that the medical records showed that they were aware of how drugs were prescribed and administered and had not intervened to stop the practice.

It was found that the families of those patients involved were “consistently let down” by those in authority including medical professionals and institutions when they complained about the treatment of their loved ones.

Whilst it is not for the panel to ascribe criminal or civil liability Bishop Jones stated that “it will be for any future judicial process to determine whatever culpability and criticism might be forthcoming”

Janet Davies, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing has commented that the report made for “very sober reading for everybody involved in the care of patients” and that “nursing as a profession must work hard to seek out lessons from Gosport”.

The UK government has apologised to relatives of hospital patients who died as result of this inappropriate prescription. Jeremy Hunt, Health and Social Care Secretary has said that there had been “a catalogue of failures” by the local NHS, the police, the coroner and the Department of Health.

Again this is a testament to families who have campaigned for over 20 years to have their questions answered.

Read the article here –

If you need any advice regarding any issues relating to inappropriate prescription of medication or any issues relating to medical care provided to you or your family then please do not hesitate to contact our experienced team of medical negligence solicitors in Devon.

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About the author

Kate Stone

Kate Stone


Solicitor in the medical negligence team