NHS whistle­blow­ers ‘ig­nored’

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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