Local MP Caroline Dinenage has today welcomed the publication of the long awaited report by the Gosport Independent Panel into deaths at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1988 and 2000.
The report, after a 4 year investigation, makes for chilling reading. It exposes consistent failings in patient care by the hospital and those in charge of it, as well as inadequate investigations across a host of services. It concludes that the lives of at least 456 people were shortened as a direct result of the pattern of prescribing excessive levels of opiates.
"This is an utterly damning report which uncovers a catastrophic failing by healthcare professionals to detect and tackle bad practice as well as inadequate investigations across a host of services. It talks of a 'disregard for human life' and a 'culture of shortening lives'" said Caroline.
"The Government, health services, the police and the Crown Prosecution Services must urgently consider the full detail in this report and set out how they will respond to its findings. The families will rightly expect serious action to be taken. They have waited far too long already for justice for their loved ones."
Problems at the hospital first came to light in 1998 and 1999 when several police investigations took place and was followed by the CPS announcing in 2001 that there was insufficient evidence for prosecution. This was followed by a CHI (Commission for Health Improvement) Investigation and then an investigation by Professor Baker. A further investigation by the police into 81 deaths at the hospital then took place but the CPS announced in July 2006 that none of the cases would go to court. An Inquest in 2009 found that Dr Jane Barton contributed to 3 deaths as a result of the drugs she had prescribed. The GMC found Dr Barton guilty of multiple instances of serious professional misconduct and she was subjected to special conditions to practice as a doctor.
The Baker report, which was published in 2013 confirmed that opiates were often prescribed before they were needed, suggested that they had almost certainly shortened the lives of some patients and even that a number of patients may have been discharged from hospital alive if they had not been prescribed this medication.
The Hillsborough style panel was established in 2013 after Caroline, along with a number of families of those who had died at the GWMH, met with the then Health Minister, Norman Lamb. In December 2013 Bishop James Jones was formally named Chairman of the Gosport Independent Panel, which was originally scheduled to finish its work in December 2017.
Caroline said "I have always supported the families of the deceased to get the full facts and answers they have been demanding for far too long. It breaks my heart that, along the way, some relatives have passed away, never knowing the truth of what happened to their loved ones, never seeing justice. While I am pleased that the Government has fulfilled their commitment to fund this £13M Independent Panel, as a vital step towards uncovering the truth, it has been a very long and hard journey for all those involved and we must finally now see justice done."
The Department of Health & Social Care have put in place a support package for those affected by events at the Gosport War Memorial – call 01132545290 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
This week the Gosport Independent Panel, which has been looking into deaths at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1988 & 2000, will publish their long awaited report after a 4 year enquiry. Since becoming Member of Parliament for the Gosport Constituency in 2010, I have been determined to support those affected by events at the Hospital to get access to the facts.
My first meeting with someone who had lost a loved one at the hospital during the period in question came in the first few weeks after I was elected. A local taxi driver, Ian Wilson, came to see me to explain the events surrounding the death of his father, Robert in 1998.
Problems at the hospital first came to light in 1998 and 1999 when several police investigations took place, which resulted in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announcing in 2001 that there was insufficient evidence for prosecution, however, the CPS asked CHI (Commission for Health Improvement) to look at events at the hospital.
That CHI Investigation concluded that there was poor practice at the hospital, which led in turn to the Department of Health looking at the hospital death rates. Professor Richard Baker was asked to investigate. This in turn led to the police being asked to investigate 81 deaths at the hospital over a prolonged period (2002-2006). The CPS announced in July 2006 that none of the cases would go to court.
In April 2009 a long awaited inquest in the deaths of several patients found that Dr Jane Barton contributed to 3 of those deaths as a result of the drugs she prescribed. Following that inquest the General Medical Council found Dr Barton guilty of multiple instances of serious professional misconduct and she was subjected to special conditions to practice as a doctor.
In the months after I was elected as the Member of Parliament for Gosport a number of other constituents had contacted me to share their concerns about the way events at GWMH had been handled. It was clear that there was a worrying lack of openness and transparency, in particular the findings of the Professor Baker Review, which had taken place in 2002, had never been made public. The families deserved answers, nothing less, and I was determined to help achieve this.
However, I was also extremely aware of the importance of proceeding with great care and respect. Since May 2010 I have also been contacted by a number of constituents who worked at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital during the years in question, and indeed their loved ones. They spoke of their care and compassion for their patients, their professional integrity and their distress at the allegations that were circulating in the community.
I applied to the Department of Health for the Baker report to be released, but because a further inquest was pending, my request was turned down. My letter requesting the Secretary of State for Health (Andrew Lansley) meet with some of the relatives, with a view to establishing a full public inquiry into the events, was turned down for the same reason.
Frustratingly the last of the inquests did not take place until April 2013, but during those years I took every opportunity to push for when this final inquest was to be concluded, the Baker Report to be published, and to lobby Ministers for a public enquiry to take place, not least because of the distress this delay was causing to the families concerned.
Once the inquest was complete I wrote to the Department of Health requesting that the Baker report be made public and they confirmed in July 2013 that it would be. The report was issued in August 2013. Professor Baker's report was very concerning, but not surprising. It confirmed that opiates were often prescribed before they were needed, suggested that they had almost certainly shortened the lives of some patients and even the possibility that a small number of patients may have been discharged from hospital alive if they had not been prescribed this medication.
Following the publication of this report things moved quickly, I was invited, along with a number of families of those who had died at the GWMH, to meet with the then Health Minister, Norman Lamb, where the offer of an enquiry was put forward and several different options discussed. The families agreed that a 'Hillsborough' type Independent Panel was of interest, but needed further information.
On 21 November 2013 a meeting was held at my Constituency office at 167 Stoke Road, Gosport with Bishop James Jones, the former Bishop of Liverpool who had chaired the Hillsborough Independent Panel, others who had been involved with that Panel, Constituents and others who had lost loved ones at Gosport War Memorial Hospital. The Bishop explained the Panel process, answered many questions, and left it to the relatives to decide whether this was the type of enquiry they would prefer. My staff collected the relatives' response, which was in favour of the Independent Panel Process, but with the request that the Bishop himself be the Chair.
In December 2013 Bishop James Jones was formally named Chairman of the Gosport Independent Panel, which was originally scheduled to finish its work in December 2017. I have met with the Bishop on a number of occasions since then for an update on the progress of the Panel (although I was never updated on any details of the process or findings, because of the vital importance that the Panel remain scrupulously independent.) Initially the meetings were to ask for my support in appealing for those who thought they might be affected by events at the Hospital to come forward. My office were also asked to submit all our evidence and correspondence to the Panel – we handed over 44 items. Last year the Bishop updated me that, because of the higher than expected number of people who had come forward to give evidence, the date would be extended to 20 June 2018 when, as promised, families of those involved would be given first sight of the Report at Portsmouth Cathedral.
In January I was appointed Minister of Care at the Department of Health and Social Care, however I took the decision at that point to officially recuse myself from any Ministerial involvement in these historic cases at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital, or the Independent Panel, so that I could continue to fully represent the interests of my Constituents when the Report was published, without any conflict of interest.
My underlying motivation, since that very first meeting with Ian Wilson back in 2010, has been to support the families of the deceased to finally get the full facts and answers they have been demanding for far too long. It breaks my heart that along the way some relatives, including Mr Wilson, have passed away, never knowing the truth of what happened to their loved ones, never seeing justice. I have always called for openness and transparency - the families deserve nothing less. While I am pleased that the Government has fulfilled their commitment to fund this £13M Independent Panel, as a vital step towards addressing the concerns and uncovering the truth, it has been a very long and hard journey for all those involved.
My team and I have worked hard to ensure that there is a support network in place for those who may be affected by the contents of the report and I am pleased to say that the Department of Health & Social Care have put that in place. Those affected should call 01132545290 or e-mail email@example.com where comprehensive support will be provided, including counselling where necessary. As ever, my office stands ready to support any constituents.
"Our NHS is precious and helps us at our times of need. The funding announcement will ensure we continue to receive the very best care anywhere in the world." Caroline Dinenage MP
Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, has welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement that the NHS will receive significant new investment over the next five years.
This weekend it was announced that the NHS will receive an extra £20 billion in real terms by 2023/23. This equates to £600 million per week in cash terms.
The additional funding forms part of an ambitious 10 year plan to utilise technology, integrate social care and reduce waste.
Commenting Caroline said: "As we face huge challenges of an ageing society it is clear there is nothing more precious to the British people than the Health Service and it is right that we redirect our money to it.
Thanks to the Conservatives keeping our deficit low, we can now invest in our public services. This will build on previous commitments such as training more doctors and midwives, and the investment in theatre capacity at the QA Hospital.
The NHS is safe in our hands."
Local MP Caroline Dinenage met with Heathrow Southern Railway this week to support the push for better transport links between Heathrow and the South Coast.
Caroline has supported the scheme since it was founded in 2017. The project aims not only to introduce direct access to Heathrow Airport by train from the South, but also improve the air quality around the area which is congested with cars. It aims to bring reliable journey times, ease motorway conjunction and support both local and national business. The new rail link is expected to be open to passengers between 2025 and 2027.
Commenting on the HSRL scheme, Caroline noted:
"The transport links between South Hampshire and Heathrow have long needed addressing. It's ridiculous that air passengers from our area need to travel in to Central London and back out again in order to get to Heathrow. This issue is felt even more acutely in Gosport, the largest town in the UK with no railway. Better links are not only vital to attract inward investment but will support holiday-makers, ease congestion and reduce pollution. I am very pleased to see how far the project has come so far and look forward to hearing about progress."
For more information about the Heathrow Southern Railway, and exact details of the prosed transport routes, please visit www.heathrowrail.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage went to visit Laura and her guide dog Atlas who explained the daily problems they encounter with pavement parking.
The charity Guide Dogs is calling for a national law to end problem pavement parking. A survey taken by the charity showed 97% of blind or partially sighted people encounter problems with street obstructions and 90% of those had experiences trouble with a pavement parked car. Laura explained this makes daily activities such as going to the shops more difficult and pose a threat to pedestrians.
After meeting the representatives from the charity, Caroline said:
"It was a pleasure to meet Laura and Atlas, who demonstrated that this is an everyday issue that can be avoided. Guide Dogs is a fantastic charity that is raising awareness and creating solutions to help those with sight loss. Within Gosport we have a problem with pavement parking and keeping the streets safe for everyone is something that is always a priority."
For more information about Guide Dogs campaign please emailed email@example.com or call 01189838162. Caroline can be contacted on 020 7219 0198.
"The British Red Cross responds to an emergency every four hours in the UK - from fires, to extreme weather, flooding and acts of terror. The charity, alongside Aviva, is calling for 10,000 volunteers to support in local emergencies." Caroline Dinenage MP
The drive to sign up more volunteers comes after the British Red Cross experienced one of its busiest years since WWII in 2017, assisting 9,265 people in more than 1,500 emergencies across the UK. Caroline showed her support for a new British Red Cross scheme called community reserve volunteers which will create a national network of people ready to help in a local emergency.
Caroline attended an event, run by the British Red Cross and Aviva at the House of Commons, to meet with volunteers and hear about the initiative, as well as their experiences of being deployed to incidents such as the Grenfell Tower fire and the London terror attacks.
Caroline said "The report published by the British Red Cross and Aviva shows that the majority of people in our region would want to help if disaster struck in their community but 55% would not know what to do. This campaign is about equipping them with skills and confidence to step up, should they ever be needed.
The report, 'When Crisis Hits: mobilising kindness in our communities', also revealed that 50% of people in the South East think their community would be unprepared to cope with a large scale emergency such as a fire or flooding.
The scheme hopes to recruit 10,000 community reserve volunteers across the UK by the end of 2019 and it takes just ten minutes to sign up at redcross.org.uk/reserves
Simon Lewis, Head of Crisis Response at the British Red Cross, said: "By creating a national taskforce of community reserve volunteers we want to put people and their communities at the heart of emergency response, to help communities rebuild and recover faster.
"Everyone has a role to play when disaster strikes, even the smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference. It's quick and easy to sign up online community reserve volunteers, you don't need specialist skills and we need your help now more than ever."
The volunteers don't need any specialist skills and will be contacted by text if there is an emergency in their community they could help with. They will undertake vital jobs like packing food parcels, blowing up airbeds for rest centres and filling sandbags in times of flooding. Any necessary training will be given at the scene of the crisis and you can confirm your availability when you are contacted. The British Red Cross will be running emergency simulation exercises across the country to effectively practise deployment of this new team of volunteers in the coming months.
To learn more about the British Red Cross' Community Reserve Volunteer scheme with Aviva and how to sign up, visit: redcross.org.uk/reserves
Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, joined international maritime charity Sailors' Society to mark its 200 years of supporting seafarers and their families around the world at a reception held in Parliament yesterday.
"90 per cent of everything we use on a daily basis comes by sea, and the seafarers who transport it often face tough conditions and make great personal sacrifices," said Caroline.
"It was great to hear about the care and support Sailors' Society has provided to seafarers in need over the past 200 years, such as working to help seafarers look after their mental health during the long contracts at sea and supporting their families back at home in times of crisis. Gosport with its historic connection to the sea appreciates the continued support of the Sailor's Society and other maritime charities."
Guests at the event heard also from Kim Spooner, whose aunt and uncle lost their lives in the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. Kim talked about her family's experience and the support they have received from Sailors' Society over the years.
Sailors' Society was founded on 18 March 1818 to minister to the needs of destitute seafarers returning home from the Napoleonic Wars. The charity now works in 30 countries around the world, supporting seafarers and their families at home, in port and at sea, through the delivery of chaplaincy, education and the relief of poverty and distress.
Stuart Rivers, Sailors' Society CEO, said: "MPs have a long history of supporting the charity's work – very appropriately, our first Chairman was Bernard Shaw MP - and we are grateful to Caroline for helping us celebrate our bicentenary. However, being 200 years old doesn't mean we can sit back on our laurels, and we continue to change and adapt in order to better support the men and women who play such an important role in transporting our goods at sea."
"It's terrifying that around £10 billion is lost to scams & fraud each year" Caroline Dinenage
Caroline Dinenage MP, is hosting the first Scam Smart event in the Gosport Constituency to help members of the public to protect themselves from fraud.
The free event takes place at Thorngate Halls in Gosport from 1.30- 4pm on Friday 8 June, as part of Scams Awareness Month, and will feature useful help and advice from a number of different local and national organisations including, Hampshire Constabulary, Trading Standards and Citizens Advice.
Speaking ahead of the event, Caroline said:
"In 2016/17 there was a 7% increase in the number of fraud offences recorded in England and Wales, this continues the year-on-year increases seen over the last five years. This crime usually happens within the safely of the victims' own home, with fraudsters using more and more devious and ingenious tactics, causing not only financial hardship but also immense distress.
My Scam Smart event, which is open to all local residents, seeks to give people the information and tools they need to not miss a trick when it comes to protecting themselves from scams."
Valerie Kelly, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Gosport said:
"We are pleased to be able to support this event by raising awareness of the scams affecting our local community. These are becoming ever more sophisticated and a risk to the unwary. This event will highlight the tactics used to persuade people to part with their savings and hopefully prevent residents from becoming victims of this type of crime."
The event is free but booking is required via firstname.lastname@example.org or 02392 583127.
"We all have a duty to help support our veterans which is why I am taking part in recreating the iconic Lords Vs Commons Pigeon Race to support Combat Stress" Caroline Dinenage MP
Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, will be sponsoring a bird in the Lords Vs Commons Pigeon Race on the 13th June to help raise money for charity.
The race is being organised by the all Party Parliamentary Pigeon Racing Group which will release 650 birds with each designated to a sponsoring MP or Peer. The proceeds will be donated to ex-servicemen's charity Combat Stress which supports veteran's mental health needs.
During both World Wars Pigeon fanciers donated thousands of birds to help the war effort, crucial for delivering messages across the front.
Commenting Caroline said: "It's no surprise that the Gosport Constituency is home to many veterans - we are proud of our enduring links with our armed forces. I was surprised to learn that Parliament has a link with pigeon racing, with annual events held up until 1928.
It is therefore fitting that, in this centenary year of the Armistice, we recreate this historic event to support our veterans today who continue to bear the scars of conflict.
If anyone knows a veteran struggling to cope please do call Combat Stress' helpline 0800 138 1619."
To mark the hundred year anniversary of British women gaining the right to vote the PROCESSIONS project is celebrating the centenary.
On June 10th, in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London, women and girls across the UK are invited to come and mark the historic moment, to follow in the footsteps of the Suffragettes. To create a sea of colours, participants are encouraged to dress in green, white or violet, the colours of the suffragette movement. One hundred women artists have also been commissioned to create one hundred centenary banners.
Commenting on the event Caroline said:
"It is important to mark this historic event, to see how far women's rights have progressed within one hundred years. I am incredibly proud that women are increasingly represented in politics at every level. This event provides an opportunity to join the festivities - to not only celebrate the women of the past, but also how far we have come and what we have achieved."
To become involved or sign up for the PROCESSIONS, please find all the relevant information on their website https://www.processions.co.uk/about/about-processions/.