Gosport hospital deaths: Families demand new law – and rue the fact that investigation will take nine months 

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FAMILY members of hundreds of patients who died at a hospital have said they face a nine-month wait to know the outcome of a new criminal police probe.

Relatives of the more than 650 patients who died at Gosport War Memorial Hospital will be interviewed by police from the dedicated independent investigation team led by assistant chief constable Nick Downing from the Eastern Policing Region.

Bridget Devine-Reeves gave a statement to the press outside Ferneham Hall in Fareham. Bridget's grandmother Elsie Devine died aged 88 at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in 1999.  Picture: Sarah Standing (300419-7501)

Bridget Devine-Reeves gave a statement to the press outside Ferneham Hall in Fareham. Bridget's grandmother Elsie Devine died aged 88 at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in 1999. Picture: Sarah Standing (300419-7501)

They were told there were three possible outcomes out of an estimated nine-month probe starting now - one outcome is criminal charges against individuals or corporate organisations.

Giving a statement on behalf of families, Bridget Devine-Reeves called for a new law to come out of the ‘immoral tragedy’ at the hospital between 1987-2001.

Bridget and her mother Ann Reeves have been campaigning for justice over the death of Ann’s 88-year-old mother Elsie Devine who died at the hospital in 1999.

Speaking outside the meeting at Ferneham Hall, Bridget said: ‘What we need now is clearly a law. A clear policy that no administration of drugs that will end life should be administered without a patient or a relative’s consent and we will be moving forward to help that go forward to parliament.

‘We need something positive to come of this immoral tragedy and it can only happen with the support of the public and of course our government.

‘We never, all of us, want to hear those words again, the disregard of human life.’

Bishop James Jones led the Gosport Independent Panel which last June found there had been a ‘disregard for human life’ at the hospital.

Mrs Devine was the great aunt of Jim Lyness, 66, from Lee-on-the-Solent. Jim said: ‘I’m a bit disappointed that criminal charges are not forthcoming straightaway or near but hopefully in nine months we will see someone in court at least.’

Gillian MacKenzie’s mother Gladys Richards died in 1998. Speaking today the 85-year-old said: ‘I’m disappointed it’s going to take such a long time because I probably won’t be around.’

Eric Cousins, 71, from Highlands Road in Fareham, saw his 82-year-old D-Day veteran dad Arthur die in 2000.

Mr Cousins said: ‘Three-quarters of the answers are in the report. When we’re talking about the numbers as it is, that should never have got to that.’

Charles Farthing’s step-father Brian Cunningham, 79, died in hospital in 1998, aged 79. Speaking today, Mr Farthing said: ‘It’s totally unnecessary - they had the evidence already, there’s no reason in my opinion why they should not proceed with the evidence they’ve got, with the ACC [Steve] Watts investigation 18 years ago.

‘The evidence existed then as it exists now. There is a lot more evidence now but the evidence was there then to prosecute. Who stopped it? The CPS. Blocked it.

‘Who is controlling the CPS? I wonder. I have a suspicious mind. I was in government myself - I have a little idea of how things work.

‘I have no confidence whatever this is going to come to a conclusion we want because there is a controlling hand there that nobody can see and will never see.’