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