An inquest jury has retired to consider its verdict over allegations that the over-prescription of painkillers at a Hampshire hospital resulted in the deaths of 10 elderly patients.
The patients had gone to the Gosport War Memorial Hospital for palliative care but had died while at the community hospital, Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard.
The cremation of seven of the bodies meant the hearings had to be given special permission by justice secretary Jack Straw.
The panel of five women and four men heard evidence from medical experts, staff at the hospital and members of the patients’ families.
A statement was also given by Dr Jane Barton, who worked at the hospital and was the only person to have been officially probed by police in connection with deaths. She was not charged with any offence.
The accusation by families of the deceased is that their relatives died because sedatives such as diamorphine were over-prescribed at the hospital. Staff denied this, saying many of those who died were seriously ill.
Hampshire Police have carried out a series of investigations into the treatment of 92 patients at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital in the late 1990s but no action was taken.
Copyright Press Association 2009