I was overworked, whines doc blamed for 656 deaths at
Oxford-trained doctor at centre of huge UK hospital scandal blames it all on 'inadequate resources'
The doctor at the centre of the UK’s Gosport scandal, in which the lives of more than 600 people were cut short by the use of powerful painkillers, has said she always did “the best for her patients” while struggling to deal with “inadequate” resources.
Dr Jane Barton emerged from hiding on Wednesday to issue a brief statement in response to last week’s damning independent report which held her responsible for policies that led to the deaths of 656 patients at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.
Speaking on her behalf, her husband Tim said: “Jane would like to thank her family, friends, colleagues, former patients and the many others for their continued support and loyalty through this protracted inquiry.
“She has always maintained that she was a hard-working, dedicated doctor doing the best for her patients in a very inadequately resourced part of the health service.”
In a move likely to anger relatives of those who died at the hospital while under her care between 1988 and 2000, Barton went on to ask for privacy on his wife’s behalf at “this difficult time”.
Barton, now 70 and retired, remained silent during the short statement and returned inside her home in Gosport immediately after her husband finished speaking.
The couple were at one stage thought to have fled to the Spanish island of Menorca following the publication of the report.
The Gosport Independent Panel found that there was “disregard for human life” at the hospital and that patients who were viewed as a “nuisance” were given drugs on syringe drivers which killed them within days.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the police and Crown Prosecution Service would “carefully examine” whether new charges should be brought after families of the dead urged the authorities to prosecute those responsible.
The report drew parallels with the case of Harold Shipman, the Manchester GP who was found by an inquiry to have killed 250 people, and with Beverley Allitt, the Lincolnshire nurse who killed four children in the 1960s.
The figures place the hospital among the worst scandals in National Health Service history, alongside the Mid-Staffordshire crisis, in which poor care at Stafford hospital was found to have led to excess patient deaths.
Concerns were first raised as early as 1988 by nurses at the hospital who warned managers that strong opioids such as diamorphine were being inappropriately prescribed. Anita Tubbritt, a staff nurse at the hospital, along with several nursing colleagues, raised concerns with hospital management but they were dismissed as “a small group of night staff who are ‘making waves’”.
The families of some of the patients whose lives were cut short at Gosport hospital have begun raising money for possible private prosecutions after losing faith in the police. The Hampshire police announced last Thursday they are to hand over their its investigations to another constabulary, after a damning report found they failed to properly examine multiple reports by families and whistle-blowers that doctors were giving patients dangerously high levels of opioid drugs.
The police were severely criticised by the panel after three investigations the force held between 1998 and 2010 failed to lead to any prosecutions.
– © The Daily Telegraph