Prescribed painkillers kill 456 in UK hospital

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More than 450 patients died after being given powerful painkillers inappropriately at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, United Kingdom, a report has found.

An independent panel said, taking into account missing records, a further 200 patients may have suffered a similar fate. The report found there was a “disregard for human life” of a large number of patients from 1989 to 2000.

It said Dr Jane Barton oversaw the practice of prescribing on the wards. There was an “institutionalised regime” of prescribing and administering “dangerous” amounts of a medication not clinically justified at the Hampshire hospital,” the report said.

Prime Minister Theresa May described events at Gosport as “deeply troubling” and apologised to families over the time it took to get answers from the NHS.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs that police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) would examine material in the report to consider their next steps and “whether criminal charges should now be brought”.

Bridget Reeves whose grandmother Elsie Divine, 88, died at the hospital in 1999 said: “These horrifying, shameful, unforgivable actions need to be disclosed in a criminal court for a jury to decide and only then can we put our loved ones to rest.”

So far, the only person to face disciplinary action has been Dr Barton, who was found guilty of failings in her care of 12 patients at Gosport between 1996 and 1999. But no prosecutions were brought and she was not struck off the medical register, choosing to retire after the findings.

Former Bishop of Liverpool James Jones, who led the Gosport Independent Panel, 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.”

Relatives had said they hoped the findings of the report would end their “harrowing” wait for answers.

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