Gosport War Memorial Hospital painkiller use 'remarkably high'

Gosport War Memorial Hospital Deaths rates at the Hampshire hospital were studied in the Department of Health report

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A "remarkably high" number of painkilling injections were prescribed to patients by doctors at a Hampshire hospital, a report has concluded.

The Department of Health investigated death rates at Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1988 and 2001.

The Baker Report was held back 10 years to allow inquests to be held.

It found death rates at the hospital and the amounts of morphine and diamorphine prescribed may have "shortened life" in some cases.

Professor Richard Baker's report concluded there was an "almost routine use of opiates" at the hospital, but from the evidence studied it was not possible to establish how the practice originated.

Several police investigations, NHS inquiries and, latterly, inquests were conducted into the deaths of elderly patients at the hospital.

Despite a police investigation into the deaths of 92 patients, no criminal prosecutions were brought.

'Raise more questions'

At a previous General Medical Council (GMC) hearing, Dr Jane Barton was found guilty of multiple instances of professional misconduct.

Dr Barton was found to have prescribed "potentially hazardous" levels of drugs to patients who later died at the hospital in the 1990s.

Despite the GMC hearing's findings, the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution on gross negligence manslaughter charges.

Reacting to the report's publication, Health Minister Norman Lamb said: "The death of a loved one has a devastating impact on the whole family.

"The families of those who died at Gosport hospital have waited a long time to see this report and I know they will want to consider it carefully and that it is likely to raise more questions for them.

"I am more than happy to meet with families to discuss concerns raised by the report."

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