FAMILIES have told of their frustration at a delay in an independent inquiry into deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.
It comes after health minister Philip Dunne announced a delay in the Gosport Independent Panel finishing its work.
The panel was due to complete its work in December 2017 but is now due to finish in spring 2018 because of an increase in the number of families contacting the panel.
Bridget Reeves, whose grandmother Elsie Devine, 88, died at the hospital on November 21, 1999, told the BBC: ‘It’s completely reprehensible. It’s hard to believe.’
She added: ‘Ninety-six families came forward in 2002 so we’re quite amazed that these additional ones are coming out the woodwork.’
In 2009 a jury inquest ruled drugs prescribed by Dr Jane Barton contributed to the death of Mrs Devine.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said 120 families had now come forward.
The panel, which started in 2014, 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 early 2000s.
Gillian Mackenzie, 83, whose mum Gladys Richards died at the hospital on August 21, 1998, said she has ‘faith’ in the panel.
‘We’ve now got an inquiry with intelligent people and experts on the panel will be doing the report,’ she said.
‘It has then to be presented to parliament, they then decide if anything further goes on. It will be years before it is finalised.’
Asked about the delay she added: ‘If that’s what it takes for the investigation to be totally professional and thorough then okay, so be it. I just hope I can live until Easter 2018.
‘The bishop’s inquiry is totally professional, I have every faith,’
Mrs Richards had been taken to the hospital to recover from a hip operation at the Royal Hospital, Haslar.
In 2013, coroner David Horsley recorded a narrative conclusion into her death, despite solicitors acting for Mrs Mackenzie asking for the conclusion to be unlawful killing based on alleged gross negligence of hospital staff who had Mrs Richards under their care at the time.
Mr Horsley said a number of factors contributed to her death due to bronchopneumonia, including falls at a nursing home, procedures at Haslar, her own immobility and medication administered to her at GWMH.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: ‘The families will be the first to know the findings.’