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Gosport Hospital Report Sparks New Criminal Considerations

Medical Negligence Lawyers Say Wait For Answers Is Distressing For Families


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say it is distressing that families affected by the Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal have had to wait 20 years to found out what happened to their loved ones.

More than 450 patients at the Hospital died after being given powerful painkillers which were not appropriate. An independent panel also suggested that 200 other patients could have also been affected but some records were missing.

The issues occurred between 1989 and 2000 when a Dr Jane Barton was responsible for overseeing oversaw prescribing of medication on the wards.

A report released this week found there was an "institutionalised regime" of prescribing and administering "dangerous" amounts of a medication which were not clinically justified.

It is understood the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will now examine material in the report to consider whether criminal charges should now be brought.

Dr Barton is the only person to have faced disciplinary action in connection with the problems after being found guilty of failings in her care of 12 patients at Gosport between 1996 and 1999. However no criminal prosecutions were brought and she retired after the findings.

The report also highlighted problems family members faced when complaining about their loved ones’ care.

Expert Opinion
“It should go without saying that patient safety should be central when someone is in the care of a hospital.

“Mistakes do happen but it is important when they do, or if there is concern about the standard of patient care, that families can rely on hospital management (in the first instance) to carry out an open and transparent investigation, and be honest where error have been made.

“It is also of utmost importance that staff concerns are taken seriously and acted upon, as this often will provide opportunity for early resolution of issues and prevention of future harm. It is disappointing that the concerns of nursing staff at Gosport War Memorial Hospital as early as 1991 was not acted upon.

“The families here were sadly failed by all of the organisations that they should have been able to rely on (GMC, NMC, CPS etc) which is completely unacceptable.

“Since the Mid Staffordshire enquiry in 2009 and the introduction of the duty of candour, hospital investigations in complaints and instance of poor care have improved, which is of benefit to patients and their families. However, there is still work to be done.

“There has been much said in the media about the costs of clinical negligence claims and best way to keep these costs down is to improve patient safety and, when there has been failings, for the hospital to take this seriously and ensure there is thorough investigation as soon as they become aware of the incident/concerns raised. It is distressing that the families of the patients here have had to wait almost 20 years for a proper investigation to have occurred.”
Rebecca Brown, Associate Solicitor

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