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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

“If a nurse didn’t like you, you were a goner”

Remember the mockery that Sarah Palin got for her prediction that state health care might result in “Death panels”?

She was wrong about a few things. There is no need for a panel of bureaucrats to decide when it is time to stop treating old people and those with Downs syndrome. That can be done more conveniently by the doctors and nurses. And while we’re at it, why confine ourselves to stopping treatment? Would it not also reduce the burden on the NHS and its employees to become a bit more proactive and actively shorten these useless lives?

This article by Dominic Lawson about the Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal is one of the most powerful I have ever read.

Last week’s monstrously belated report on the Hampshire hospital’s treatment of its patients in the 1990s revealed that at least 450, and probably more than 650, had been killed — sorry, had had their lives shortened — as a result of a policy of attaching them to syringe drivers pumping diamorphine. Diamorphine is medically indicated only when the patient is either in the severest pain or terminally ill, because its notable side effect, when large doses are consistently administered, is respiratory failure. Injections of diamorphine — in 30mg doses — were Dr Harold Shipman’s chosen method of dispatching his patients. But the numbers at Gosport exceed the tally of Britain’s most prolific mass murderer.

You may be thinking, no need for that sort overblown rhetoric. Surely this is a case of misplaced mercy, of overdoing the pain relief? That is what I thought too. It is why I had not paid much attention to this story until now. More fool me. Read on:

The report, led by James Jones, the former Bishop of Liverpool, reveals that only 45% of those administered terminal quantities of diamorphine were said to be in pain. And in 29% of cases their medical notes give either no reason, or no comprehensible justification, for the lethal dose (most died within a couple of days of being attached to the pump).

(Emphasis added by me, as it is in all the excerpts I quote in this post.)

Even that is not the worst. Read on further:

The ones most likely to get the treatment appeared to be not the sickest, but the most “difficult”. As the stepson of one of the victims remarked: “If a nurse didn’t like you, you were a goner.” This was clear from the testimony of Pauline Spilka, an auxiliary nurse. After the local newspaper in 2001 reported the complaints by relatives of Gladys Richards, (whose life had been “shortened”), Spilka went to the police. In an interview with Detective Chief Inspector Ray Burt of the Hampshire constabulary, Spilka said: “It appeared to me then and more so now that euthanasia was practised by the nursing staff. I cannot offer an explanation as to why I did not challenge what I saw at that time . . . I feel incredibly guilty.”

Spilka was especially troubled by the fate of an 80-year-old patient (his name is redacted) whom she described as “mentally alert and capable of long conversations . . . able to walk . . . and to wash himself”. He was, however, “difficult”. She told the policeman that this patient was “always making demands” and that “I remember having a conversation with one of the other auxiliaries [Marion] . . . we agreed that if he wasn’t careful he would ‘talk himself onto a syringe driver’.”

So it came to pass: “One day I left work after my shift and he was his normal self. Upon returning to work the following day, I was shocked to find him on a syringe driver and unconscious. I was so shocked and angered by this that Marion and I went to confront the ward manager.” They were told to put a sock in it. Nursing auxiliaries are at the bottom of the chain, without any medical qualifications. What was their word worth, against that of the formidable (and formidably well connected) Dr Jane Barton

Whereas a word from Dr Jane Barton was literally enough to sentence a woman to death. Lawson continues:

Perhaps the most upsetting case — at least, as the father of an adult with Down’s syndrome, I found it so — was that of 78-year-old Ethel Thurston, admitted with a fractured femur. She was described in the report as having “learning difficulties [and] the mental capacity of a 10-year-old”, though she “once held down a job in a bank . . . and had been able to travel across London independently”. The nurses’ notes took a different tack: “Willing to feed herself only if she feels like it . . . her behaviour can be aggressive.”

On July 26, 1999, Dr Barton made her recommendation: “Please keep comfortable. I am happy for nursing staff to confirm death.” Happy? The following then appears in the nursing notes: “Syringe driver started diamorphine 90mg. Midazolam 20mg.” These huge doses were administered at 11.15am. At 7pm a nurse confirmed Miss Thurston’s death.

47 comments to “If a nurse didn’t like you, you were a goner”

  • Pat

    If paedophiles are pursued 60 years after the event then murderers should be.
    Anyone think this has stopped?

  • Envy of the World, don’t you know?

  • john in cheshire

    Is there a fund set up by relatives so they can initiate legal proceedings against this doctor and nurses? I’ve read that the CPS had refused to consider legal proceedings against those implicated in these unlawful deaths.

  • Mr Ecks

    I second john in Cheshire’s comment. I would be happy to contribute towards the prosecution of these scum.

  • Derek Buxton

    Why can the CPS refuse to prosecute what clearly seems to be murder? What happened to justice something at which we once excelled?

  • llamas

    Google ‘John Bodkin Adams’ to understand just what it takes to prosecute a doctor in the UK for treatment which could in any degree, no matter how slight, be argued as being medically indicated. MDs in the UK have a fantastically-powerful and -influential union which will not hesitate to rally round one of their own.

    There is also a strong cultural bias in the UK towards trusting and respecting doctors.

    Shipman got away with it for decades despite numerous suspicions being raised. He was only caught after committing blatant, obvious murder, using misppropriated medications.

    Dr Barton will never be charged. The worst she may face will be some pantomime slap on the wrist.



  • It’s not murder when the state does it.

    I find it rather depressing that none of these nurses turned up in a shallow grave somewhere. The meekness with which the relatives accept this reminds me of Jews being herded peacefully onto railway wagons. I’m tempted to think those cultures which practice blood feuds might have a point.

  • Oh, and people wonder why there were crowds protesting outside the hospital where Alfie died. Their trust in the authorities is zero, as it should be.

  • John B

    @Tim Newman… ‘The meekness with which the relatives accept this reminds me of Jews being herded peacefully onto railway wagons.’

    Yet if someone puts a kitten in a wheelie bin there is a national uprising. I think they have been putting something in the water in the UK since around the 1970s.

  • llamas

    No, when it comes to doctors and nurses in the UK, their social standing is still so high that they can just-about get away with murder – as the Shipman case showed. Multiple sources raised multiple suspicions about his activities for years – all were brushed aside because nobody in authority could believe it of a doctor – A Doctor! It was unthinkable. Only an obvious, amateurish fraud of a will finally got the police to sit up and take notice.

    Most people tacitly accept that medical staff sometimes help people to a painless and decent end, and don’t ask too many questions. Naturally, this opens the door wide, both to the avaricious and the psychotic.



  • I don’t care if the nurses who saw things were afraid for their jobs. If you see things like that, you go to hospital management. If they ignore you, you write to your MP. And if they ignore you, that’s what The Daily Mail is for!

    A remark I overheard recently. (For context, the speaker is not given to reading the Daily Mail in general.)

  • Runcie Balspune

    They were told to put a sock in it

    I have worked in the Financial Services industry, if you become aware of malpractice, even if only a suspicion, and you knowingly keep quite about it, _you_ can go to jail. If the company screws up, by dint of its operating practices, then the company can be sued, and the directors can go to jail.

    The NHS is the exact opposite when it comes to whistle-blowing and litigation. Millions are spend every year on gag orders, sacking and disciplinary hearings are common for those who speak out, and when the NHS screws up you cannot sue them, you can only sue the individuals involved, even though they were subject to the operating instructions of their superiors, who never even get sacked let alone serve jail time.

    Sometimes money is more important than life.

  • Syringe driver started diamorphine 90mg. Midazolam 20mg.”

    From my very much non-medical background, I nevertheless know that diamorphine is the trade name for heroin and midazolam is a fast-acting anti-convulsant used when seizures last beyond a certain time frame. Where I work, it’s pretty common for midazolam to be administered orally when a seizure lasts for more than five minutes. Midazolam is a powerful benzodiazepine drug (ie. same family as Valium, Xanax etc). So if you dose someone up to the eyeballs with that PLUS pharmaceutical grade heroin, it’s inevitably going to be good night nurse.

    What’s being described above sounds like the pointy end of Brave New World to me.

  • JadedLibertarian

    The past few years have taught us this: if you have a seriously ill child do not get them treated on the NHS. Under no circumstances take them to Alder Hey or Great Ormond Street. They have trigger happy lawyers and will take out court orders to prevent you from accessing non-NHS second opinions. They will hold your child hostage until they die.

    Beg, borrow, steal if you have to. But get your child away from the NHS as soon as you can.

    It’s the envy of the world you know.

  • JadedLibertarian

    Oh yes, and don’t give birth on the NHS either.

  • Ljh

    From the Daily Mail:
    The Gosport Independent Panel investigation, first launched in 2014, examined more than one million documents.

    It found hospital management, Hampshire Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, General Medical Council, and Nursing and Midwifery Council ‘all failed to act in ways that would have better protected patients and relatives’.

    The report also highlighted failings by healthcare organisations, local politicians and the coronial system.”

    This makes me wonder which of our public servants were NOT involved in the cover up.

    The only doctor I trust should have a financial interest in keeping me alive. I can imagine the good doctor, loyal to the NHS, believed she was helping it by clearing beds. If she had used more expensive drugs the pharmacist and chief of finances might have become interested.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Ljh: “I can imagine the good doctor, loyal to the NHS, believed she was helping it by clearing beds.

    I am old enough to remember when we were told that most of the problems in this world were because there were not enough women in positions of authority – in the professions, politics, bureaucracy, churches, media, business, etc. Women would run things better, we were told.

    Looks like that is another of those Politically Correct theories that did not work out the way they were supposed to. The evidence is that women can screw things up just as badly as men.

  • Fraser Orr

    Just to re-emphasize SI’s point above they aren’t talking about morphine here, but diamorphine, which is the pharmaceutical name for heroin. 90mg is an overdose, especially for the low weight individuals that it was no doubt given too. Given with Midazolam, which is an anesthetic, hypnotic agent, it is nothing sort of murder. Both drugs suppress breathing and cause depressed blood pressure. Midazolam also has the “benefit” that it prevents the formation of short term memories and makes you sleep. Something which is quite convenient when you want your victim… I mean patient to be unable to prevent your actions or complain about them to their relatives.

    Everyone loves to say that there are problems with the NHS but the doctors and nurses who work there are great people doing their best under difficult circumstances. No doubt that is true of some. But my experience of both is that patients are an inconvenience, a source of trouble, and they should shut up and comply with orders. You know, much like every other public employee everywhere from the DMV to MI5.

    When my father was dying in the Great Western Hospital in Glasgow the nurses were so disrespectful and horrible to him I came close to punching a few of them out a few times, and the doctors weren’t much better. Putting your beloved relatives in the hands of government toadies at the most vulnerable time of their lives? Anything except that. I continue to feel guilt today that I didn’t put him on a plane and bring him the the USA where, although expensive, at least they treat the patients with kindness and dignity.

  • pete

    The NHS is a nationalised industry. We should expect normal levels of public sector diligence and efficiency from its employees.

  • bobby b

    I’d never heard of Dr. Barton, so I Binged her name.

    From yesterday’s SUN:

    “In her report she revealed staff in the CPS Record Management Unit had “accidentally destroyed” large parts of the original file.”

    She likely cannot be prosecuted. The CPS “accidentally destroyed” most of the records.

    Do y’all send your governmental units over here to the USA for training by our FBI? Honestly, set your sights higher. You’re losing the war with your entrenched ‘crats.

  • Confused Old Misfit

    bobby b,
    I think they lost the war with their bureaucrats some time ago. I don’t sense any outrage in the comments above. More of a tired, reluctant acceptance.

  • Bemused

    The NHS culture is toxic, it destroys whistleblowers as a warning to others to stay in line. Accidents are hidden, negligence is covered up, criminality is tolerated or addressed “in house”. The NHS is protected from within and without.

    Everybody involved in the execution of these murders should be arrested and face trial. The Authorities who ignored the whistleblowers and statistics should lose their jobs, reputations and pensions.

  • Timbot

    So that’s two (known) mass murderers produced by the NHS.

    This is what comes from treating doctors and nurses as saints, and a health service as a secular religion.

  • James James

    Fabian Tassano wrote a book about this in 1995: “The Power of Life and Death”. He shows that if a patient wants to live but the doctor wants them to die, the doctor always wins. But if the patient wants to die and the doctor wants them to live, the doctor always wins! The legal system always takes the side of the doctor. Their opinion is a medical opinion, after all.

  • It is astonishing that some government functionary being kicked out a restaurant in America was still on the front page of the Sky News website this morning, but allegations of systematic mass murder by a doctor aided and abetted by the NHS was now nowhere to be seen.

  • Jay Thomas

    Brits are collectively incapable of any truly criitical examination of the NHS and its starting premises. Belief in the NHS is baked into their sense of who they are. It would be like an Americanovertly rejecting the Consitution.

  • Mr Black

    I can only laugh at the idea of turning to the agents of the state to investigate and prosecute agents of the state. When does that ever work out? Tim Newman is right, the relatives of the murdered should have terminated those involved and trusted in the juries to acquit out of disgust at the actions of the government. That is how such things get solved, by making those who think they have power experience what it is like to have none.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    “It is astonishing that some government functionary being kicked out a restaurant in America was still on the front page of the Sky News website this morning, but…”

    Oops. Sorry.

  • Paul Marks

    Gosport hospital (hundreds of dead), North Staffs hospital (hundreds of dead), Dr Shipman (hundreds of dead), my own local hospital just out of “special measures” – and on and on, all over the country.

    I express no opinion – just look up these cases and examine (and think about) the facts. And please spare me the lie about “cuts” – the NHS has got more money (however one calculates it) every year since the 1970s.

  • Jay Thomas

    But the post-world war II British national identity is anchored in socialist ideas. No matter how bad things get in practice, the modern Briton can not afford to do more than squint at the horrors. If the NHS is a bad way to organize health care, his most sacredly held values and his entire conception of the national community and his place in it, are just a shabby lie.

  • llamas

    +1 Jay Thomas, both times. Hammer, nail. As we’ve said here before, the NHS is now the State religion in many ways, and regardless of party, all bend the knee at its altars. I’ve been polluting these pages for 15 years, and us old-timers have seen many a story like this come and go – down the memory hole.

    Some years ago, on these very pages, in response to another ghastly failure by the UK ‘caring professions’, I wrote these words:

    “I’m now firmly convinced, based on this story and prior experience, that ‘social workers’ in the UK could perform ritual Mayan child sacrifices on the steps of Westminster Abbey, twice weekly with a matinee on Bank Holidays, and not have to fear for their jobs, or indeed, for any consequences whatever. They have successfully made themselves immune from any sanction, whether it be legal or social. The Kafka-esque outer limits of their incompetence, whether by overt act or craven omission, are apparently beyond the boundaries of the known universe.”

    Pencil in ‘NHS employees’ in place of ‘social workers’ and the exact-same sentiment applies. I used to think it could be changed or (heaven forfend) improved. I no longer think that.



  • Correction: there WAS a strong cultural bias towards trusting doctors and nurses. This is going to kill that off as surely as that murdering bitch and her state accomplices killed those victims.

  • Jay Thomas

    JuliaM: I have to disagree. I’m afraid the cultural bias is safe, facts be damned. All cultures need to provide people with the sense that they belong to something bigger than themselves. In Britain that role falls to the NHS. The national narrative needs the country’s nurses and doctors to be wonderful, kind, people. Whether they are in reality is immaterial.

  • llamas

    @ JuliaM – do you really think that this is true? I’m not challenging, I’m asking. My view may be (becoming) OOD or OBE.

    A couple of years ago, I read (for reasons we need not go into here) the transcript of a proceeding in a division of the High Court, which involved the evidence of an MD.

    She gave her evidence, and was then examined on it. It was quite clear from the devastating sequence of questions that she had fabricated just-about every word of her evidence after the fact and based upon the case notes of the social workers whose actions had led to the proceedings. It did not, perhaps, quite rise to the level of Mary McCarthy’s famous critique of Lillian Hellman, but it was close. It was awful. She was revealed to be a fabricator and liar who had seriously attempted to perpetrate a fraud upon the court in the service of one of the parties to the proceedings. Had one of the other parties not been motivated to seek out some simple, but Vogon-Constructor-archived, evidence that completely-contradicted her story, it would have gone down as true, and likely influenced the panel’s decision.

    She did it based upon her status as a Doctor. It was obvious that she never expected that anyone would have the temerity to question her evidence. At one point, the transcript recorded that she wept and appealed to the panel to be allowed to avoid answering the questions.

    What price did she pay for this flight of fantasy?

    None. Allowed to walk out of court as though nothing had happened. Unless one spent one’s days perusing the transcripts of tedious pre-trial hearings in unfashionable divisions of the High Court, nobody would ever know.

    Who remembers the days – not so long ago – when you could get the signature of a doctor on all sorts of official forms and applications – the superior aura surrounding the degree of MD was widely accepted as conferring some special status upon its holder. And I well recall the reactions I used to see, back in the days when I dated nurses at Guys Hospital – a nurse in uniform could go anywhere, men would step aside to let her pass, give up their seat on bus or Tube, and generally show a degree of deference normally reserved for the minor aristocracy. And, generally speaking, regardless of colour, which down along Tooley Street in those days was by no means a given. From time to time, we’d go to the Royal Albert Hall for free – all she had to do was show her credentials at the ticket office and any unsold seat was hers for the asking.

    Has all that gone away entirely?



  • Jim

    “Brits are collectively incapable of any truly criitical examination of the NHS and its starting premises. Belief in the NHS is baked into their sense of who they are. It would be like an Americanovertly rejecting the Consitution.”

    No you’re wrong. What you see as ‘UK public’s support for the NHS’ is not real. Its producer interest translated by the Left leading MSM into massive public support for the NHS. The UK Public are cottoning on to what the NHS is (full of nasty people who don’t care a jot about you or your family’s medical needs, and will kill you if you cause too much trouble) but have nowhere to make those views known, yet.

    What you see as support is in fact blatant union and left leaning political ideological self interest, masquerading as public support. Hence why the BBC will produce programmes on the NHS where they interview ‘medical professionals’ who just happen to be Leftist political activists and union reps, but that fact is never revealed. The same goes for ordinary people paraded as ‘supporting the NHS’ – they are ALWAYS political leftist activists, not ordinary members of the public.

    Its a Potemkin Village. The public know the NHS is sh*t. The politicians probably know it too, but no one dares be the first person to say the Emperor has no clothes, because if they do the usual SJW suspects will be on them in an instant. Eventually someone will stick their head above the parapet, and rather like Brexit, will be very surprised to find just how much of the UK public would vote for the NHS to be razed to the ground, its sites sown with salt and all its employees sold into slavery, they detest it so much.

    Do not mistake the MSM image of the public’s views for the real thing.

  • Snag

    Wait, this witch is still alive? I assumed she was long dead and that’s why she isn’t clapped in irons ahead of a trial.

  • Stonyground

    I’m not much of a fan of the NHS, for many of the reasons given above. I do however think that it is not as universally awful as this thread would suggest. I think that I am fortunate to live in an area where NHS health care is relatively good, so my experiences with it have possibly been more positive than most. Having said that, I started to experience a minor heart problem early this year and I’m still waiting for a diagnosis. I had a CT scan two weeks ago and am now waiting to see if it turned anything up. I’m not holding my breath as it took a month to get a letter to say that my treadmill test had come up normal. Still, not to worry, it’s not as if it’s something life threatening or anything.

  • Derek Buxton

    It is difficult to say the least, to attack in any way a Doctor or nurse, too easy for them to hurt you…badly! We need a complete change of this attitude but first we have to change the attitude of Government.

  • Paul Marks

    Sadly I think that llamas and others on this thread who have said much the same as he has, are correct about the state of mind of the British public – I hope they are not correct, but I suspect they are.

    This is a substitute religion – part of a general religion of “Social Reform” or “the government must DO SOMETHING” as that wicked fool “Shep” Smith says on Fox News. And as my example of Mr Smith on Fox News illustrates – this is not a substitute religion that is not confined to Britain.

    No matter how much government interventionism (government spending and regulations) to “help the people” fails (horribly fails) the basic ideological assumption is not questioned. On the contrary the demand goes up for yet more government spending and regulations.

    It may well be that Western civilisation is doomed – as government spending and taxes are already crushing (undermining Civil Society) and regulations strangle almost every aspect of life.

  • staghounds

    “Sometimes money is more important than life.”

    When it’s my life or someone else’s money.

  • Having worked and trained with doctors and nurses I can confirm the institutional arrogance. They know many ways to tip a patient ‘over the edge’. Make yourself a ‘nuisance’ and that may be your fate in the ‘wonderful’ NHS.

  • Dr Death has issued a statement: she was working in a

    “very inadequately resourced part of the health service”

    This reminds me a lot of Harvey Weinstein’s statement last year that he would campaign vigorously against the 2nd amendment. I think Dr Death is hoping to get the Labour anti-austerity brigade on her side.

    I’m not sure it will work out that much better for her than it did for Harvey. Firstly, it does sound like a confession that it was all done to manage the budget. Secondly, she continued for several years into Labour’s period of rule and the syringe drivers that were her weapon of choice continued in use till the year after they lost power. Thirdly, I think even Corbyn and friends may feel she’s a bit too toxic for their purposes.

    There is also the problem that people at her position were well paid in the bad old Tory days, and given the pay rises Blair threw all across the NHS when he gained power, her final salary may suggest she herself was not so inadequately resourced.

  • Silverite

    In response to earlier comments above, there is a Gofundme page raising money for legal costs.

  • weaselwatcher

    Couch it in whatever terms you, respiratory failure means you suffocate. It’s no different than putting a pillow over someone’s face except it takes no effort on your part. The least cruel method would be anethestics followed by desanguination but no one seems to have considered it.