Gosport War Memorial Hospital police probe 15,000 death certificates as they set on interviewing 'non-family witnesses'

AROUND 15,000 patients’ death certificates are being examined by investigators probing the ‘institutionalised’ use of opioids in hundreds of deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 11:41 am
Updated Monday, 15th March 2021, 4:01 pm

The police probe into the deaths between 1987-2001 has been bolstered with up to 150 serving and retired detectives now working on the case.

It comes after a 2018 independent panel report found 456 patients had their lives shortened through the unjustified use of opioid painkillers.

Another 200 patients ‘probably’ had their lives shortened, the Gosport Independent Panel found.

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Bridget Devine-Reeves gave a statement to the press outside Ferneham Hall in Fareham in April 2019. Bridget's grandmother Elsie Devine died aged 88 at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in 1999. Picture: Sarah Standing (300419-7457)

Detectives have now taken at least one statement from each family they know about.

This means they are now set to quiz non-family witnesses. Police have not said who will be questioned.

Dr Jane Barton, clinical assistant at the time at the hospital, has previously said she was ‘hard working doctor doing the best for her patients in a very inadequately-resourced part of the health service’.

Officers are conducting a ‘review of millions of page of documents’ including material seized from the Bury Road hospital.

Gosport War Memorial Hospital police investigation

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Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Jerome said: ‘The independent police investigation... is one of the largest and most complex of its nature in the history of UK policing.

‘The size of the Operation Magenta team, which consists of both serving and retired detectives from a number of police forces across the country in addition to other members of police staff, has been increasing steadily since the investigation was launched in April 2019 and will soon total around 150 people.

‘Having such a large and experienced team enables us to progress at pace with the investigation, which currently involves the review of millions of pages of documents including more than 700 patient records, around 15,000 death certificates and a significant quantity of other seized materials.

‘We have so far taken at least one statement from every family currently engaged with the investigation and this work will continue when it is safe to do so and in line with the national Covid-19 restrictions.

‘We are also now contacting other non-family witnesses during the relevant time period for the purposes of them also giving statements to aid the investigation.

‘We are continuing to keep the families updated and remain committed to carrying out a full and thorough investigation.’

Mr Jerome said ‘there is no reason to suggest there will be any further patients identified’ in the case.

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