Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

Son told 'mother is here to die'

Six of the 10 patients were - (clockwise from top left) - Sheila Gregory, Robert Wilson, Enid Spurgin, Elsie Devine, Arthur (Brian) Cunningham and Ruby Lake
The elderly patients died at GWMH between 1996 and 1999

A son who thought his mother was recovering in a Hampshire hospital was told by a doctor "she has come here to die", an inquest has heard.

Inquests are being held at Portsmouth Coroner's Court into the deaths of 10 patients at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital (GWMH) more than 10 years ago.

Elsie Lavender, 84, was transferred to the hospital after suffering a stroke.

Her son Alan thought she was recovering well but when she got to GWMH she rapidly deteriorated, jurors heard.

Hampshire police have carried out a series of investigations into the treatment of patients at the Hampshire hospital in the late 1990s but no prosecutions have ever been brought by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Some of their families believe that sedatives such as diamorphine were over-prescribed at the hospital and led to the death of their relatives who were receiving recuperative care.

I couldn't believe the cold way the news had been broken to me, as if it was pre-determined, I was shocked
Alan Lavender

Ms Lavender, a widow from Gosport, suffered a stroke in early 1996 and was initially treated at the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar before being transferred to the GWMH on 22 February, 1996.

She had suffered from diabetes for 50 years and as well as the stroke, she had suffered a head injury in a fall down the stairs at her home.

Her son told the inquest that he understood that his mother was transferred to Daedalus stroke rehabilitation ward at GWMH for rehabilitative care.

He said that he had asked Dr Jane Barton when his mother would be able to return home as they had to make arrangements concerning her cat.

Alan Lavender
Mr Lavender said his mother was a very proud lady

He said that Dr Barton had replied: "You can get rid of the cat. Do you know your mother has come here to die."

Mr Lavender added: "I was shocked at the way this was said to me. I did not know that to be the case. I thought she had gone into the hospital for rehabilitation.

"I couldn't believe the cold way the news had been broken to me, as if it was pre-determined. I was shocked."

Dr Barton, who was the primary clinician involved in the 10 cases, has been the only individual to be investigated but no charges were made against her.

Mrs Lavender died at the hospital on 6 March 1996, with the cause of death stated to be a stroke.

Mr Lavender said: "I am concerned at the rapid deterioration of my mother when she went into GWMH.

"I accept she was an elderly lady, however, she appeared to be making a full recovery from a stroke. She was strong and lucid."

Alan Jenkins, representing Dr Barton, suggested that the severity of his mother's condition was explained to him during the course of several conversations.

Mr Lavender replied: "It is hard to recall exactly what happened but I have described it as it appeared to me."

The inquests, expected to last six weeks, are being held into the deaths of Arthur Cunningham, 79, Elsie Devine, 88, Sheila Gregory, 91, Ruby Lake, 84, Elsie Lavender, 83, Geoffrey Packman, 67, Leslie Pittock, 83, Helena Service, 99, Enid Spurgin, 92, and Robert Wilson, 75.

The inquests continues.

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Hospital deaths inquest under way
18 Mar 09 |  Hampshire

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