Report Out Into Deaths At Hampshire Hospital
3 August 2013, 06:17 | Updated: 3 August 2013, 06:24
A report into high death rates at a Gosport hospital, dating back up to 25 years, has found a high number of painkilling injections were used.
The Department of Health investigated death rates at Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1988 and 2001 but the Baker Report was held back 10 years to allow inquests to be held.
It found death rates at the hospital and the amounts of morphine and diamorphine prescribed may have "shortened life" in some cases.
Professor Richard Baker's report concluded there was an "almost routine use of opiates" at the hospital, but from the evidence studied it was not possible to establish how the practice originated.
Several police investigations, NHS inquiries and, latterly, inquests were conducted into the deaths of elderly patients at the hospital. However, despite a police investigation into the deaths of 92 patients, no criminal prosecutions were brought.
At a previous General Medical Council (GMC) hearing, Dr Jane Barton was found guilty of multiple instances of professional misconduct. Dr Barton was found to have prescribed "potentially hazardous" levels of drugs to patients who later died at the hospital in the 1990s.
Despite the GMC hearing's findings, the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution on gross negligence manslaughter charges.
Reacting to the report's publication, Health Minister Norman Lamb said: "The death of a loved one has a devastating impact on the whole family.
"The families of those who died at Gosport hospital have waited a long time to see this report and I know they will want to consider it carefully and that it is likely to raise more questions for them.
"I am more than happy to meet with families to discuss concerns raised by the report."