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Gosport hospital findings must bring real change to the NHS says leading clinical negligence lawyer

Lawyer and former NHS radiographer, Suzanne White expresses her shock as Gosport inquiry reveals that 450 lives were shortened, and possibly 200 more, following the unnecessary administration of painkillers.

Posted on 20 June 2018

Suzanne White, patient safety campaigner and head of clinical negligence at specialist law firm Leigh Day, has expressed concern and sadness at the extent of the institutional failings outlined in the Gosport War Memorial inquiry.

The report released today concluded that 450 lives had been shortened by the hospital’s regime of administering opioids unnecessarily.

The review, led by former Bishop of Liverpool James Jones, involved discussions with over 100 families and examined 833 death certificates. Previous inquests held in 2009 and 2013 concluded that the care led by Dr Jane Barton, who was in charge of prescribing medication on the wards, had contributed to the death of six patients.

Furthermore, the GMC found Dr Barton guilty of “serious professional misconduct” in 2010 but she was not struck off.

Suzanne White, partner at Leigh Day and a former radiographer in the NHS, said: “We were forewarned about the numbers involved in this report, however, nothing could have prepared us for the extent to which the institutions let down patients and their relatives.

"This is a terrible day for those who care greatly about patient safety.

“Repeated warning signs within the initial 2003 investigation and longstanding concerns raised by families and even staff appear to have been ignored. “The panel’s findings that over 450 people died, and another 200 could have been similarly affected through an institutionalised practice of prescribing unnecessary painkillers, must bring real change across the NHS so that nothing like this ever happens again.

"There can be no culture of silence when it comes to patient safety and the NHS.

“These cases date back to the late 1980s and I cannot imagine the distress and pain the families have had to endure before finally getting some answers concerning the awful circumstances of their loved one’s death. Many of those who died at Gosport had happy months, years or even decades denied to them through the actions of the individuals involved; they must now face a full investigation.”