Health secretary Matt Hancock tells relatives that Gosport hospital deaths patients are 'victims'

HEALTH secretary Matt Hancock has today insisted the government is listening to the families of the Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal as he said: ‘Your families are the victims.’

Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 4:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 4:48 pm

The senior Tory – who heads up the NHS from Whitehall – was in Fareham today to speak to relatives of the 456 patients whose lives were cut short after being given dangerously high doses of painkillers.

Speaking to The News outside Ferneham Hall, Mr Hancock said: ‘I’m here to listen to the families on behalf of the government – I'll be here and express how sorry I am for what happened over so many years.

‘Everybody deserves to have their families listened to, each one of the victims of this terrible scandal is a person is a mother, a father, a brother, a sister.

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Matthew Hancock, secretary of state for Health and Social Care at Ferneham Hall in Fareham. Picture: Sarah Standing (160719-4520)

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‘Of course we've got to allow the police process to proceed and I wouldn't want to get in the way of that but I think apologising on behalf of the government and NHS for what happened and listening to make sure those voices are heard, that's incredibly important.’

An independent bishop-led inquiry last year into events at Gosport found 456 patients had their lives shortened as a result of being given opioids without medical reason between 1987 and 2001.

And after a 20-year struggle for justice by campaigners, police finally agreed to launch a criminal investigation into the deaths at Gosport.

Relatives of the victims hope the investigation – the fourth into one of the biggest scandals in NHS history – will finally lead to criminal charges being brought against staff involved in administering the drugs unnecessarily.

Mr Hancock added: ‘We're making progress in getting to the bottom of what happened at Gosport hospital over so many years.

‘I want to make sure that every family has the chance for their voice to be heard to treat with dignity the memory of those who lost their lives, that we get to the bottom of what happened and we learn the lessons to stop it happening again and of course have a proper police process so the criminal charges can be properly addressed.

‘Now that part of it is rightly for the police rather than me as a minister.

‘I'm here today to express on behalf of the whole government and NHS my sincere apologies to say sorry for what happened and also to listen because listening is such an important part of getting this right.’