Full Police Investigation Into Gosport Hospital Opioid Deaths

Tim Locke

April 30, 2019

The deaths of hundreds of patients at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire from unjustified opioid doses is to be the subject of a full, new police investigation.

A report into the deaths in June 2018 concluded that the lives of 456 patients were shortened at the hospital between 1989 and 2000.

Culture of Shortening Lives

The report concluded there was a disregard for human life and a culture of shortening the lives of a large number of patients.

Over a 12-year period, Dr Jane Barton, a GP working as a clinical assistant, was found to be responsible for the practice of prescribing opioid painkillers on the wards.

She faced disciplinary action but was not struck off by the GMC.

Criticism was levelled at senior management of the hospital, healthcare organisations, local politicians, the coroner system, the Crown Prosecution Service, the General Medical Council (GMC), the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), and Hampshire Constabulary.

Following the report, the Chief Constable of Hampshire, Olivia Pinkney said it was right to "take a step back" for another force to lead the investigation.

Full Criminal Investigation

Today relatives of those who died were told a full police investigation will be carried out by a different police force.

The Eastern Policing Region assigned a team under Assistant Chief Constable Nick Downing to study the report's findings and assess the evidence.

Today he said: "The families of those affected by the events at Gosport War Memorial Hospital are at the heart of everything we do, and I hope the news that we will now be carrying out a full investigation is of some comfort to them."

Some reports said as many as 650 deaths could be investigated but ACC Downing said: "This investigation is not about numbers, it is about people – specifically those who died at the hospital and the loved ones they left behind."

Officers will meet families individually as part of the inquiry to hear their own experiences, and "it is their accounts about the loss of their loved ones that will help put the medical assessments we have into context".

He described the inquiry as "a highly complex and emotive case" going back over more than 30 years.
 

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