Gosport War Memorial Hospital Multiple Killings
Posted on 21/10/2018
As many as 656 patients at Gosport War Memorial Hospital are believed to have died from the inappropriate dosing of opiates whilst under the care of Dr Jane Barton in the 1980s and 1990s.
The records of 2,000 patients who had died between 1987 and 2001 have been searched.
A report produced by the Gosport Independent Panel led by Bishop James Jones and published on 20th June 2018 concluded that there had been a “disregard for human life” and a “culture of shortening the lives” at the Hospital. Their inquiry had unearthed an astonishing catalogue of failure, arrogance and indifference from medical staff, health officials, local politicians and the police.
The matter is now undergoing further investigation by Kent Constabulary led by Assistant Chief Constable, Nick Downing.
At a Family Forum event held on 16th October 2018 at Ferneham Hall, Fareham, relatives and loved ones of the victims were addressed by key individuals involved in further investigation of the evidence.
There were that there were 140,000 documents and over a million pages to consider and that alone would take 6 months to go through.
Nick Downing and his team of about 20 staff, in their initial assessment, will be taking a legal standard to consider the possibility of bringing charges of murder, manslaughter, corporate manslaughter, Misconduct in Public Office and Health & Safety Offences.
This is what happened at Gosport War Memorial Hospital
Dr Jane Barton worked at the community hospital in Gosport, Hampshire, between 1988 and 2000. During that period she oversaw the untimely deaths of 656 patients apparently caused by the administering of lethal doses of opiates. This is more than twice the number murdered by Dr Harold Shipman who killed 260 people. As with Harold Shipman, the preferred drug was the painkiller, Diamorphine (medical heroin).
In 2009, an inquest into 10 deaths at the hospital found that in five cases the administration of medication “contributed more than minimally”. It found that the skills of non-consultant doctors, particularly Dr Barton, were not adequate. However, there was no suggestion from the inquest that Barton deliberately took the lives of her patients. She retired that year.
The General Medical Council were told that Dr. Barton’s had a “brusque and indifferent” manner, “intransigence and worrying lack of insight” plus a “failure to recognise the limits of her professional competence”. In 2010, they found her guilty over 11 deaths of “multiple instances of serious professional misconduct”.
At the time, she had told how she and other medics at the hospital were under “unreasonable” pressure and that she did not want her patients to suffer. She insisted she always acted in their interests. However, no prosecutions were brought.
Following years of dissatisfaction from affected families, the Gosport Independent Panel was set up in 2014, led by Bishop James Jones at a cost of £13 million. Bishop Jones had chaired the Hillsborough inquiry so had proven competence.
The Panel reviewed a million pieces of evidence, spoke to families and searched through the records of 2,000 patients who had died at the hospital between 1987 and 2001. They found that about a quarter of these were missing. They noted that Dr. Barton had signed the death certificates of 833 patients and had earned the title, Dr. Opiate. In fact, there were so many deaths in the two wards she ran that they were called ‘the End of the Line’. In spite of the death toll, previous investigations had surprisingly not resulted in any prosecutions.
The Panel focused on “unanswered questions” from those earlier investigations and found that 456 patients had their lives shorted after being given deadly doses of painkillers.
On 20th June 2018, they published a 370 page report which concluded that there were more than 200 reports missing and as many as 650 people may have died during Dr. Barton’s time at the hospital. There had been an “institutionalised regime” of prescribing and administering opioids without medical justification.
Nursing staff as far back as 1991and 1992 had raised concerns about prescribing diamorphine, but had been ignored. Furthermore, families who had campaigned for 20 years to have their loved ones’ deaths investigated had been “marginalised” by hospital staff when they complained. They had been failed both by the police and medical regulators who did not act or investigate thoroughly. The report was critical of previous investigations into Dr. Barton which had missed the “significant systemic problems”.
In summary, the Panel unearthed an astonishing catalogue of failure, arrogance and indifference from medical staff, health officials, local politicians and the police.