More than 450 patients at a hospital in the south of England died as a result of the usual practice of giving them strong doses of opioid painkillers without medical justification, according to an independent investigation that demands the intervention of the police. The report points directly to a single doctor but also highlights the apathy of the center’s authorities in the face of a scandal that was limited between 1989 and 2001.
Throughout this period, Dr. Jane Barton oversaw an “institutionalized practice of shortening lives” that resulted in the death of 456 patients at Gosport War Memorial Hospital (Hampshire County), according to the verdict of the investigation headed by the former bishop from Liverpool, James Jones.
Those responsible also suggest that at least another two hundred patients saw their life expectancy diminished as a result of that attitude of “contempt for human life” that involved the treatment with “dangerous doses” of diamorphine, a strong opioid-type painkiller, without it being clinically justified.
The panel that directs Jones has been very hard with the health authorities and especially with those of the center of Hampshire, given that several nurses already alerted about the methods of Barton more than five decades ago. “The hospital could have forced a rectification, but decided not to do anything,” stresses the report on the ostracism that the complaining nurses encountered in their day.
The then member of the local district, Sir Peter Viggers, also received blows, who, on a recurring basis, minimized what was happening in the Gosport, questioned the need for an investigation and made it clear that the hospital had its full support.
But perhaps the most sensitive point of the report on “a period of twelve years in which the care of patients was broken” is the one that emphasizes that “although the other members of the hospital’s medical staff were not directly involved in the treatment of those patients, they did know how the painkillers were administered and, nevertheless, they did not intervene to put an end to this practice “.
Dr. Barton, 69, has been withdrawn since being subjected to disciplinary action for the faulty care of a dozen patients in Gosport, between 1996 and 1999. No further action was taken against her. In light of the investigation released Wednesday, Bishop Jones has made it clear that it is not his responsibility to ascribe criminal or civil responsibilities, a task he entrusts to the authorities and the police. In other words, what the prelate claims on behalf of the families of the victims is the opening of a criminal investigation.