Page last updated at 20:28 GMT, Friday, 20 March 2009

Hospital got 'unwanted patients'

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 nurse who worked at a Hampshire hospital where 10 elderly people died told an inquest into their deaths the hospital "got patients nobody wanted".

The hearing, at Portsmouth Coroner's Court, is examining the deaths of 10 patients at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital (GWMH) more than 10 years ago.

Some of their families believe sedatives such as diamorphine were over-prescribed at the hospital.

Nurse Lynne Barrett told the court most of the patients were "terminal" cases.

We got the patients no one else knew what to do with
Nurse Lynne Barrett

Ms Barrett, who worked on Dryad Ward, said, at the second day of the hearing: "We got a lot of patients that nobody wanted.

"We got the patients no one else knew what to do with. They were usually in the terminal stages.

"There was very little rehabilitation on the ward, we might get a physical therapist for one hour a week."

Ms Barrett told the hearing that in the late 1990s a lot of patients were being transferred to GWMH.

The nurse was cross-examined by Charles Farthing, step-son of Arthur Cunningham, 79, who died at the hospital on 26 September 1998.

He asked her: "Have you ever heard of the ward being called the death ward?"

'Palliative care'

She replied: "No."

Ms Barrett described Dryad as a "long-stay palliative care ward for patients, some of whom stayed there months - even years".

Hampshire Constabulary 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.

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 hearing continues.

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