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22.11.18

NHS trusts made to publish staff and patient concerns in the wake of Gosport scandal

NHS trusts will be forced to publish concerns raised by staff and patients about their care in the wake of the Gosport patient deaths scandal, the health secretary has announced.

In a statement to Parliament, Matt Hancock said he would “strengthen protection” for staff whistle-blowers as he set out the government’s response to the Gosport Independent Panel’s report.

The report, published earlier in the year, investigated what happened at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital where more than 450 patients were killed between 1987 and 2001 after being prescribed dangerous doses of pain-killing drugs.

Hancock said there had been a “systematic failure to respond to terrible behaviour” and said tough measures were to be introduced to ensure the scandal would never be repeated.

The independent panel’s report, established by bishop James Jones, found a “disregard for human life” and an “institutionalised practice of shortening the lives” of a large number of patients.

Of the 833 deaths assessed by the panel, over half (456) of patients were deemed to have died through the “inappropriate describing of drugs” and as many as 200 further patients may have died as a result of staff “administering opioids without medical justification,” but records could not be found in those cases.

Hancock outlined proposals for “tough new measures to ensure that lessons are learnt from the serious failings,” and said: “I reiterate a profound and unambiguous apology for the hurt and anguish of the families."

The health secretary added: “What happened at Gosport was truly shocking and we must learn the right lessons from what happened, and those families who were tragically let down, and apply them across our entire health and social care system.”

He said that changes made since Gosport mean that staff can speak up with more confidence and identify failings earlier.

Hancock continued: “The reforms we plan to make will mean greater transparency, stricter control of drugs, and a full and thorough investigation of every hospital death.

“Taken together it means that warning signs will be spotted earlier and examined at the time, not 25 years later.”

Under the new plans, every NHS trust in England will be required to report annually on how concerns raised by staff and patients have been addressed.

 

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Image credit - Chris Ison/PA Wire/PA Images

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