Dr Jane Barton, doctor who prescribed morphine and killed hundreds of patients in Gosport hospital.
Please watch BBC Panorama documentary by Richard Bilton 2018:
The doctor at the centre of the Gosport scandal which saw the lives of more than 600 people cut short by the use of powerful painkillers has said she always did “the best for her patients” while struggling to deal with “inadequate” resources.
Dr Jane Barton emerged from hiding on Wednesday to issue a brief statement in response to a damning independent report which last week held her responsible for policies which led to the deaths of 656 patients at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.
Speaking on her behalf, her husband Tim said: “Jane would like to thank her family, friends, colleagues, former patients and the many others for their continued support and loyalty through this protracted inquiry.
“She has always maintained that she was a hard-working, dedicated doctor, doing the best for her patients in a very inadequately resourced part of the health service.”
In a move likely to anger relatives of those who died at the hospital while under her care between 1988 and 2000, Mr Barton went on to ask for privacy on his wife’s behalf at what described as “this difficult time”.
Dr Barton, now 70 and retired, remained silent during the short statement and returned inside her home in Gosport immediately after her husband finished speaking.
The couple were at one stage thought to have fled to the Spanish island of Menorca following the publication of the report.
The Gosport Independent Panel found that there was “disregard for human life” at the hospital and that patients who were viewed as a “nuisance” were given drugs on syringe drivers which killed them within days.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the police and CPS would “carefully examine” whether new charges should be brought after families of the dead urged the authorities to prosecute those responsible.
The report drew parallels with the case of Harold Shipman, the Manchester GP who was found by an inquiry to have killed 250 people, and with Beverley Allitt, the Lincolnshire nurse who killed four children in the 1960s.
The figures place the hospital among the worst scandals in NHS history, alongside the Mid-Staffordshire crisis, in which poor care at Stafford hospital was found to have led to excess patient deaths.
Concerns were first raised as early as 1988 by nurses at the hospital who warned managers that strong opioids such as diamorphine were being inappropriately prescribed.
Anita Tubbritt, a staff nurse at the hospital, along with several nursing colleagues, raised concerns with hospital management but they were dismissed as “a small group of night staff who are ‘making waves’”.
The families of some of the patients whose lives were cut short at Gosport hospital have begun raising money for possible private prosecutions after losing faith in the police.