NHS whistleblowers ‘ignored’
A hospital opiate scandal that killed up to 650 patients could happen again because Britain’s National Health Service is still ignoring whistleblowers, campaigners have warned.
Nurses raised the alarm about the use of the powerful painkillers at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire in 1991, but managers dismissed their concerns.
Yesterday an independent panel found that 456 patients died at the hospital between 1989 and 2000 because of ‘‘an institutionalised practice of the shortening of lives through administering opioids without medical justification’’.
Up to 200 more patients were also likely to have died because of the practice, which had ‘‘become the norm’’, but records were missing, it added.
Jane Barton, known as ‘‘Dr Opiate’’, was responsible ‘‘for the practice of prescribing which prevailed on the wards’’ as clinical assistant at the hospital, the report said.
In 2010 the General Medical Council ruled that Barton, who has since retired, was guilty of repeated professional misconduct relating to 12 patients who died at the hospital, but she has never faced criminal charges.
The victims’ families, some of whom learnt only yesterday that their loved ones’ deaths had been down to the use of the drugs, said their battle for justice was just beginning. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said police would consider new material in the report and decide whether criminal charges should be brought.
Hampshire constabulary said detectives had investigated only the 92 cases in which relatives had raised concerns. The force had not carried out a wider examination of medical records, which led to the conclusion in the report that there could be 650 deaths.
– The Times French intelligence officers are to be invited to take a degree course in spying, in an attempt to draw upon academic knowledge in the fight against terrorism and other crimes.
The country’s secret services are trying to recruit bright graduates to work on forestalling the sort of Islamist attacks that have killed 246 people in the country since 2015.
Intelligence agencies have been criticised for failing to keep track of people they have identified as Islamists who have later become killers. Intelligence chiefs say that with about 10,000 on their watch lists, they cannot keep constant attention on them all.
L’academie de Renseignement (The Intelligence Academy), a government body set up in 2010 to provide training for spies, is to award undergraduate and postgraduate degrees for intelligence officers, whose diplomas will be recognised by