Up to 650 people died at a hospital on the south coast of England due to an institutional culture which hastened death and undermined the sanctity of life, a major report has found.
The review into Gosport War Memorial Hospital, led by the former Bishop of Liverpool, found 456 patients were given opioid drugs “without appropriate clinical indication”. It is likely that at least 200 others were “similarly affected”, but their clinical notes were not found.
Bishop James Jones in his summary vindicated the families affected for their “quest for truth” as he acknowledged their pain and anger.
Across nearly 400 pages, the Gosport Independent Panel lays out, in unflinching detail, how a “hazardous combination of medication not clinically indicated or justified” were administered to patients over many years.
Numerous allegations about a culture of death are also highlighted – with one police officer saying that families feared “the hospital was guilty of institutionalised euthanasia”.
Ethics lecturer Anthony Wrigley, writing in The Daily Telegraph, said while the report was clear that it should not be seen in the context of assisted suicide, it raises questions over “what those charged with our care should or should not be allowed to do”.
Pathway to death
Concerns over doctors’ power have been previously raised during debates on assisted suicide – which is currently illegal in the UK.
Across one million pages of documents which were analysed, it was shown that “a large number” of patients and families thought they had been admitted to hospital “for either rehabilitation or respite care” but were instead “in effect, put on a terminal care pathway”.