Meeting gives families of Gosport War Memorial Hospital patients an update on investigation into deaths investigation

FAMILIES who lost loved ones staying in Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1989 and 2001 had the chance to ask questions on an investigation launched last month into the deaths.

The Right Reverend James Jones, who led the Gosport Independent Panel, invited families to Fareham today to give them an update since the report into the deaths was published in June.

Karen Read and Peta Bermingham Picture: Habibur Rahman

Karen Read and Peta Bermingham Picture: Habibur Rahman

In the private meeting held at Ferneham Hall, he spoke with the relatives and also introduced them to Assistant Chief Constable Nick Downing, from Kent Police, who is leading an assessment into the report’s findings.

They also got to hear from the Department for Health and Social Care.

Hampshire Constabulary’s Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney also attended. 

As previously reported in The News, the Gosport Independent Panel’s report found at least 456 patients had their lives shortened after being administered opioids without medical justification.

Bishop Jones said in the findings there was a ‘total disregard for human life’, a statement many relatives of those who died found difficult to cope with.

Speaking after today’s meeting, families said not a lot of new information was divulged.

Josephine Tickner and Susan Scott’s mother Sylvia Tiller died at Gosport War Memorial Hospital during the time covered by the report.

Susan, from Alton, said: ‘Today’s meeting seemed to be just going through the same things. There is a new panel looking through the same evidence.’

Josephine, from Gosport, added: ‘We didn’t really expect to have any answers and they couldn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know.’

Peta Bermingham went along to the meeting after her grandmother Gladys Richards died at the Bury Road hospital. Peta’s mother Lesley and aunt Gillian Mackenzie were the first to raise concerns in 1998 following the passing of their mother 10 days after a hip operation.

The panel's report revealed they were called ‘troublemakers’ by the police investigating their complaints. 

Peta said: ‘What I got from today is they are reviewing all of the information so that’s the panel’s report and all the content that contributed to the report.

‘They have to review that all before deciding if there is a case to answer who’s culpable and what those charges may be and if it is referred to the CPS.’

Gosport resident Maggie Cheetham, whose close family friend Ethel died in the hospital, said today was about ‘seeing justice is done’.

Caroline Dinenage, Gosport MP, wrote an open letter to Bishop Jones which was read out during the meeting.

She said: ‘I have always supported the families of the deceased to get the full facts and answers they have been demanding for far too long.

‘It breaks my heart that, along the way, some relatives have passed away, never knowing the truth of what happened to their loved ones, never seeing justice.

‘My team and I stand ready to offer help and support.’