Nurses ‘Silenced’ | More Than 450 Die

More than 450 patients died following the administration of powerful painkillers at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire.

Between the years 1989 and 2000, a report published by an independent panel claims that the hospital suffered from an “institutional regime” of prescribing and administering “dangerous” amounts of clinically unjustified medication. The prescription of the medication was overseen by Dr Jane Barton. So far, she is the only person to have been subject to disciplinary action.

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, told MPs that authorities are currently considering “whether criminal charges should now be brought”.

Police previously investigated the deaths of 92 patients during three inquires between 1998 and 2006, but no prosecutions were brought.

Nursing staff first raised concerns about the poor prescribing and administration of opioids at the Gosport Memorial Hospital nearly 30 years ago but their fears were “silenced” by management, the inquiry revealed.

In 1991, Anita Tubbritt, a staff nurse at the hospital rang Keith Murray, the local Royal College of Nursing branch convener, to express concerns she and other staff shared over the use of diamorphine and syringe drivers.

The report said the nurses gave the hospital a chance to rectify the practice and in choosing not to do so “deaths resulted and, 22 years later, it became necessary to establish this panel in order to discover the truth of what happened”.

Janet Davies, Chief Exec of the RCN, said. “The report is right to praise the bravery shown by the nurses who raised concerns. It highlights how difficult it can be for nursing staff to challenge the decisions taken by others.”

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