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Published on 22 April 2009

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Police may reopen death probe

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Investigations into the deaths of five elderly patients may be reopened following an inquest ruling that inappropriate use of painkillers contributed to their deaths.

Dr Jane Barton, who was in charge of care at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital (GWMH) at the time of the deaths ten years ago, was previously investigated, but no action was taken.

However, the General Medical Council (GMC) has confirmed that she might face a fitness to practise hearing because of the inquest ruling. Police are also considering whether to reopen a criminal investigation into the controversial hospital.

The inquest into the deaths at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court ruled that the deaths of five patients at the GWMH were “more than minimally” contributed to by the medication given.

It also decided that painkillers were used inappropriately for the patients’ condition or symptoms.

However, the deaths of a further five patients were found not to have been affected by medication administered for therapeutic reasons.

Hampshire Police’s Chief Constable Alex Marshall said that the case may be reopened if “any new” information arose from the inquests.

Although Dr Barton, who left the hospital in 2000, has not been charged with any offence she had been subject to an Interim Orders Panel (IOP) since July last year, which bans her from prescribing diamorphine.

Copyright Press Association 2009

General Medical Council



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