Report in to deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital found a ‘remarkably high’ use of opiates

Gladys Richards
Gladys Richards
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A REPORT looking in to the deaths of patients at a Gosport hospital after care concerns were raised, has been released today.

After a 10-year wait, the Baker report has been published by the Department of Health.

Ian Wilson, 53, of Beryton Road, Gosport, has been one of many families waiting for the report to be revealed.

It looked into 81 deaths at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital (GWMH) during the 90s, after concerns were raised about patient care under Dr Jane Barton.

It revealed an over-prescription, and in some cases use, of opiates, and note-taking had been poor.

Mr Wilson’s father Robert, 74, had been to Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, for a shoulder injury.

He was transferred to GWMH, to wait to be put into a nursing home.

But he died in October 1998, and the cause of death was put down to bronchopneumonia.

Mr Wilson said: ‘I can see why the report has been kept back for so long.

‘It shows a consistent over-prescription of opiates to an inappropriately wide group of patients.

‘A high proportion of deaths were because of bronchopneumonia, that is a side affect of diamorphine, and that was my dad.

‘He was in for respite, they were trying to find a nursing home for him. He wasn’t on any painkillers at QA.

‘This is a damning report and I can see why they kept it from us.

‘I’m glad it has come out now, it’s taken a long time, but gives us more of an angle.’

Richard Baker, a professor of clinical governance, who worked on the Harold Shipman inquiry, started his review in 2002.

The government would not publish the report until the final inquest into deaths from that period took place.

The final inquest, in to the death of Gladys Richards, 91, took place in April this year.

And finally today, the report has been released.

It found the use of opiates ‘almost certainly shortened the lives of some patients, and it cannot be ruled out a small number of these would otherwise have been eventually discharged from hospital alive.’

It said opiates were often prescribed before needed.

Dr Barton had a higher percentage of patients whose cause of death was put down to bronchopneumonia, and prescribed a higher number of opiates before a patient’s death.

It also found there ‘were no clear clusters of deaths’, but the ‘proportion of patients at Gosport who did receive opiates before death is remarkably high’.