Prescribed painkillers ‘shortened 456 lives’

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More than 450 patients died after being given powerful painkillers inappropriately at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, 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 “institutionalized 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 apologized 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 would examine material in the report to consider their next steps and “whether criminal charges should now be brought”.

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.

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