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Hearing to look at fatal over-prescribing of painkillers

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A doctor is due in front of a fitness to practise panel after being in charge of care at a hospital where over-medication contributed to the death of five patients.

Dr Jane Barton faces a General Medical Council hearing over the alleged over-prescription of painkillers after five patients died at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

In April, an inquest jury at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard the deaths were ‘more than minimally’ contributed to by the medication given. The inquest also ruled the use of painkillers was inappropriate for the condition or symptoms of three patients.

But it also ruled that the medication had been administered for therapeutic reasons in all five cases and that medication had not contributed to a further five deaths.

Dr Barton was in charge of care at the Hampshire hospital at the time of the deaths in the late 1990s. The hearing is expected to last 11 weeks and the inquiry will look at the treatment of 12 patients in respect to allegations including whether she gave starting doses of diamorphine which were too high, and whether the dosage range she prescribed was too wide.

Other allegations include that she did not consult with colleagues when a patient’s condition deteriorated and she failed to keep accurate notes.

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