Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1001/27542
Gosport opioid deaths scandal: we need democratic control of our NHS
An NHS worker, Southampton Socialist Party
As a student radiographer I spent a placement at Gosport War Memorial Hospital. And so I was saddened to see newspaper headlines that suggested - wrongly - that another Harold Shipman-type case had happened there.
The headlines were in response to an independent review into deaths at the hospital from the late 1980s to 2001. For 20 years, families campaigned to get to the truth of what happened to their loved ones.
During that time 12 separate investigations took place with much of their findings kept from the families. Their concerns were often ignored, dismissed and even ridiculed.
The review found at least 456 patients died as a result of being over-prescribed opioids like diamorphine. Some were only at the hospital for rehab while they recovered from infections or broken bones and were expected to return home in a matter of days or weeks.
Much of the newspaper coverage has been around the conduct of the doctor in charge at the time. But the review makes clear that consultants knew of the practice and that nurses had raised their concerns and were silenced.
We have a right to expect that when we get old, we will be cared for safely, with dignity and in our best interests. But who will guarantee this?
We have policies in place to encourage staff to be open and honest when things go wrong and to support whistle-blowers who become aware of poor or dangerous practice.
But it's often the chronic lack of resources and staff which create these issues. We who work in the NHS are often caught between a rock and a hard place, trying to provide the best care.
The families have the right to demand criminal prosecutions. But we should also demand greater accountability, particularly when the establishment media will use this scandal to attack the idea of a public health service.
Hospitals should be publicly owned and run democratically by our local communities, the people that use the services, and health workers themselves. Not as token representatives on boards stuffed with the same old bosses, but with full control of every aspect of care, of fully funded resources, and to allow transparent investigations when things do go wrong.
In The Socialist 27 June 2018:
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