PUT your faith in me – that’s the message from a bishop chairing a panel looking into historic deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.
Bishop James Jones, who is chairman of the Gosport Independent Panel, is reassuring families he will listen and the truth will be uncovered.
The panel is looking at the unexpected deaths of dozens of patients in two now defunct rehabilitation wards at the Bury Road hospital between the 1980s and the early 2000s.
Despite four police probes, the matter was never brought to court.
An investigation by Professor Richard Baker found that Dr Jane Barton, who was in charge of the wards, had a high percentage of patients whose cause of death was put down to bronchopneumonia, and prescribed a higher than average number of opiates before a patient’s death.
Dr Barton has not been struck off.
I want to reaasure people we are here to listenBishop James Jones
Families feel they have never had justice for their loved ones and as a result the independent panel, which is led by the bishop who was chairman of the Hillsborough inquiry, was set up to take a fresh look at the allegations.
Bishop Jones said: ‘I want to reassure people we are here to listen.
‘Accountability is an essential part of justice.
‘Families have felt there was something wrong with the way their loved ones died.
‘Similar to Hillsborough, we have found many families felt they have not been listened to and trust was an issue.
‘Since we started our investigation in December the number of families that have got in touch has trebled.
‘But we are aware not all families may have come forward, but we encourage them to do so.
‘The information they give will be held in confidence and the more people we hear from, the more we can paint an accurate picture of what happened.’
Ernest Stevens, whose wife Jean died on Daedalus ward in 1999, welcomed the call for more people to come forward.
He said: ‘I support this independent panel as I want justice for my wife.
‘Within a very short time of being in the hospital, Jean went into a coma and died two days later.
‘That wasn’t right and all the families that have spoken out want justice.
‘That’s why I would urge anyone else affected to come forward and speak to this panel.
‘I have recently had a stroke, but I don’t want to give this up.’
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