Gosport scandal highlights fear of blame

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the hundreds of deaths at Gosport War Memorial hospital may have been preventable if whistleblowers had been encouraged to come forward.

Hunt highlighted that the scandal, in which 450 people had their lives shortened after being prescribed powerful painkillers at the Hampshire hospital, exposed a blame culture within the NHS and that hospitals and ministers have a responsibility to turn that blame culture into a ‘learning culture’.

A report by an independent panel into the scandal has also revealed that a further 200 patients may have suffered a similar fate because there was a ‘disregard for human life’ of a large number of patients from 1989 to 2000.

Hunt said: “The basic problem is that if you are a doctor or a nurse and you see something going wrong ... the thing that families want, if they are bereaved or have a tragedy, is to know that the NHS isn’t going to make that mistake again. We make it much too hard for doctors and nurses to do that. They are worried that there will be litigation, they will go up in front of the GMC [General Medical Council], or the NMC [Nursing and Midwifery Council].”

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