Hundreds Killed in Gosport - Those Responsible Must be Held to Account

Hundreds Killed at Gosport War Memorial Hospital

 

Hundreds Killed in Gosport - Those Responsible Must be Held to Account

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Hundreds Killed in Gosport - Those Responsible Must be Held to Account

More than 450 patients were killed after being given powerful painkillers for no medical reason at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, The Report of the Gosport Independent Panel has found. The report reveals that during the 1990s at least 450 people, and probably more like 650, had been killed as a result of a policy of attaching them to syringe drivers pumping diamorphine.

Diamorphine is an extremely potent pain killer and is usually only indicated when a patient is in the severest pain or is terminally ill. If large doses over a short period of time are given without the patient having built up a tolerance to it, it leads to respiratory failure and death. (It was the chosen method of the serial murderer Dr Harold Shipman in killing his patients).

(Diamorphine is usually administered via a syringe-driver, a device which slowly introduces the drug into the body over a number of hours or days. The time period over which the drug enters the body is essential as too much over too short a time can have lethal effects – which is precisely what happened as Gosport War Memorial Hospital. Where the diamorphine would usually enter the body via syringe driver slowly over a 24 hour period, instead many patients were receiving the drug in as little as an hour. It is the rapidity of the drug intake which caused death.)

Back in the 1990s nurses attested to the fact that it seemed many patients were not receiving diamorphine for any medically indicated reason. An auxiliary nurse, Pauline Spilka told the police: “It appeared to me then and more so now that euthanasia was practised by the nursing staff.”

She went on to mention a “difficult” patient whose life was apparently ended for this offence: “I remember having a conversation with one of the other auxiliaries… we agreed that if he [the ‘difficult’ patient] wasn’t careful he would ‘talk himself onto a syringe driver’.”

Shortly afterwards, this patient was put on a syringe driver, and subsequently died.

There are a number of personal testimonies like this in the report. And the report concludes that there were 456 patients were killed as a result of the administration of opioids without appropriate clinical justification. That is to say, 456 patients were given a substance known to cause death with little or no medical justification for it in the first instance

This horrendous affair started almost 30 years ago and the truth about the extend of the scandal is only becoming apparent now.

In summary, the report found there was a "disregard for human life and a culture of shortening the lives of a large number of patients” from 1989 to 2000. There was an "institutionalised regime" of prescribing and administering "dangerous" amounts of a medication not clinically justified at the Hampshire hospital, the report said.

Another way to state the report’s conclusions would be to say that ‘there was a culture of killing patients’. This of course sounds more radical (which is presumably why the euphemism “shortening the lives… of patients” was used), but it nevertheless accurately reflects the reality of what happened.

***

As a number of commentators have pointed out, there is concern that this is not an isolated incident. But there is no simple bureaucratic solution. Indeed, it was, in part, the failure of the various bureaucratic systems in place which led to the deaths. A significant part of this scandal, and cause of much distress to the families of the victims, is the fact that the hospital management, healthcare organisation, Hampshire Constabulary, local politicians, the coronial system, the Crown Prosecution Service, the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, did not take their complaints seriously (or at least seriously enough).

More safeguards and systems are unlikely to help as there were already a number in place which were not adhered to.

In accord with many of the families whose loved ones were killed at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, “those implicated must now face the full rigor of the criminal justice system. Accountability must take precedence here. These horrifying, shameful, unforgivable actions need to be disclosed in a criminal court for a jury to decide…”

Please sign this petition to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, urging him to pursue justice in this matter for the victims and their families.

https://www.gosportpanel.independent.gov.uk/media/documents/070618_CCS207_CCS03183220761_Gosport_Inquiry_Whole_Document.pdf

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/gosport-scandal-make-a-fuss-and-its-the-death-syringe-for-you-xlfflw65t

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-44547788

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Gosport War Memorial Hospital: Justice Must be Done for Victims and their Families

For the attention of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt,

Dear Mr Hunt,

I am certain you have been following the Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal and the report which has emerged in recent days.

As you will know, the “disregard for human life” in GWMH led to the deaths of 456 people (and probably a further 200 more) and has also greatly undermined the public’s trust in the NHS. Justice must be done for the victims and their families and to restore public confidence, not just in the NHS but in the entire system of regulatory bodies which are supposed to prevent this kind of thing from happening.

As well as the shocking number of unnecessary deaths at the hospital – deaths which appear to amount to extreme negligence at best – I am greatly concerned about the apparent collusion and/or inaction on the part of the various bodies in place which exist, in part, precisely to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen.

As the report euphemistically concludes “There was a disregard for human life and a culture of shortening the lives of a large number of patients.”[emphasis added]. Another way to state the same thing would be to say that ‘there was a culture of killing patients’. This of course sounds more radical which is presumably why the euphemism “shortening the lives… of patients” was used.

Nevertheless, it is clear that along with the disregard for human life there was a culture of killing patients, and as such, the conclusions of The Report of the Gosport Independent Panel represent an utterly damning assessment of the whole affair.

There is no easy bureaucratic solution to this problem as it was the bureaucratic failure of management in the hospital, healthcare organisation, Hampshire Constabulary, local politicians, the coronial system, the Crown Prosecution Service, the General Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which is in part to blame.

Many people suspect this culture, and the deaths that result, is far more prevalent than we are currently aware, and in accord with many of the families whose loved ones were killed at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, “those implicated must now face the full rigor of the criminal justice system. Accountability must take precedence here. These horrifying, shameful, unforgivable actions need to be disclosed in a criminal court for a jury to decide…”

Again, this deep cultural problem – which many believe is not isolated – has led to the deaths of so many and greatly undermine trust in the NHS. A necessary step in bringing justice for the victims and victims’ families and, secondarily, restoring confidence in the NHS, is to take the demands of justice seriously and hold the individuals implicated in this scandal to account.

Obviously, such action cannot bring back loved ones, but holding people to account for their failings and wrongdoing is an important first step in doing justice for the families and in rebuilding confidence in a health system and various governing bodies which have brought themselves into such disrepute.

In your position as Health Secretary, I urge you to use your authority to ensure that this matter is pursued in the British legal system so that those responsible are brought to justice.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Hundreds Killed in Gosport - Those Responsible Must be Held to Account

Sign this petition now!

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2,399 people have signed. Help us reach 5,000 signatures.