Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Gosport War Memorial Hospital deaths inquiry announced

Gosport War Memorial Hospital
Image caption Police investigated the deaths of 92 patients at the hospital but no-one has been prosecuted.

The suspicious deaths of dozens of patients at a hospital will be the subject of an inquiry, the government has announced.

A review into the deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire between 1988 and 2000 was published last year, 10 years after it was completed.

It found "almost routine use of opiates" had "almost certainly" shortened the lives of some patients.

The inquiry was announced by Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb.

It will be led by the former Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, who has already begun work with the affected families.

Mr Jones previously chaired the Hillsborough Independent Panel.

Mr Lamb said the investigation was expected to take about two years and would review the evidence held by a number of organisations.

In a written ministerial statement, Mr Lamb said families had continued to raise concerns about the care of the relatives and the subsequent investigations into the deaths.

'Shocking events'

He said the independent panel would address those concerns and carry out a wider investigation than the Baker report, which focussed on patient care and hospital records.

"The events at Gosport War Memorial Hospital have caused immense distress to the families of the patients who died," said Mr Lamb.

"I was deeply concerned by the findings of the Baker report, and I am confident that the appointment of Bishop James Jones to chair this independent process, will help answer the many questions of the families affected by these shocking events."

The 2013 report, led by Prof Richard Baker of Leicester University, could not be published earlier because of police investigations and inquests taking place.

The document said it could not be ruled out that, without the use of morphine and diamorphine, a small number of the patients who died, could have been discharged from hospital alive.

'Pain-killing injections'

The terms of reference for the new inquiry will be published in the autumn.

Concerns were first raised about the hospital in 1998.

The Baker report found the practice of making patients "comfortable" using pain-killing injections was used as early as 1988.

Several police investigations, NHS inquiries and, latterly inquests, were conducted into the deaths of elderly patients at the hospital.

A police investigation was held into the deaths of 92 patients but no criminal prosecutions were brought.

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