Health

Gosport hospital deaths: Nurses were ‘making patients comfortable’

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A nurse who worked at a hospital where more than 450 patients died after being prescribed dangerous doses of painkilling drugs has said staff were trying to make them "comfortable".

The patients were given the drugs inappropriately at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital, a report concluded.

The nurse, who does not wish to be identified, told the BBC she "didn't feel we were killing" patients.

The report's findings have led to calls from families for an inquiry.

The independent panel report found there was an "institutionalised regime" at the hospital from 1989 to 2000 of prescribing and administering "dangerous" amounts of a medication not clinically justified.

It said taking into account missing records, a further 200 patients may have also had their lives shortened.

'Nurses classed as murderers?'

The nurse, who has now retired, said at the time it did not seem like lots of people were dying prematurely.

"I suppose I was concerned but at the same time I was pleased these people seemed to be more comfortable.

"That's what nursing is all about; making sure people were comfortable."

"I can't say that someone died too soon, I didn't feel we were killing them."

The woman said she and her colleagues raised concerns with hospital managers in the 1990s about the use of the dangerous pain killers and the syringe drivers used to pump them into patients

"I feel looking back I think 'did I do my job properly?'. I'm sure I did. Are we nurses classed as murders?"

Asked what she would say to relatives of those who died, she said: "I would say 'I'm sorry if you feel your loved ones have died in this way. I feel sure they were well looked after and we gave them all the care we could. I did my best'."

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So far, the only person to face disciplinary action has been Dr Jane Barton, who was found guilty of failings in her care of 12 patients at Gosport between 1996 and 1999.

But no prosecutions were brought and she was not struck off the medical register, choosing to retire after the findings.

The retired nurse said she thought Dr Barton was a "good woman".

A statement read out on behalf of Dr Barton earlier this week said she was a "doctor doing the best for her patients" while working in a "very inadequately resourced part of the health service".

The Gosport Independent Panel's report found whistleblowers and families were ignored as they attempted to raise concerns about the administration of medication on the wards, which was overseen by Dr Barton.

Following the release of the report last week, Prime Minister Theresa May described events at Gosport as "deeply troubling" and apologised to families over the time it took to get answers from the NHS.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs that police and the Crown Prosecution Service would examine material in the report to consider their next steps and "whether criminal charges should now be brought".

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