THE panel investigating the historic deaths of patients at Gosport War Memorial Hospital say they are making good progress.
Bishop James Jones, chairman of the Gosport Independent Panel, said they are now half way through their work.
It comes as the government announced in November last year the report will be concluded in spring 2018 rather than this December.
Bishop Jones, who previously chaired the Hillsborough Independent Panel into the disaster, said: ‘We are over half way through the work of the panel and are now in contact with more families with concerns about the historic care and treatment of their loved ones.
‘I’m grateful to the local media for raising awareness of the panel’s work which has helped the panel reach families who have concerns.
‘As announced in December, this led to the need for a small extension of less than six months to complete the panel’s work.
We are over half way through the work of the panel and are now in contact with more families with concerns about the historic careBishop James Jones
‘It’s vitally important that all families who have come forward are treated equally and their concerns are properly examined.’
As previously reported in The News the panel 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 the early 2000s.
A report into the hospital by Dr Richard Baker took 10 years to become public after the police probes and inquests were completed.
It found Dr Jane Barton, who was in charge of the wards, had a higher percentage of patients whose cause of death was put down to bronchopneumonia, and prescribed a higher number of opiates before a patient’s death.
It also found there ‘were no clear clusters of deaths’, but the proportion of patients who did receive opiates before death was ‘remarkably high’.
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: ‘I’ve always said that, for the sake of both the families and staff, it’s vital we finally get to the truth.
‘Delaying the completion date shows the panel’s determination to thoroughly examine all the new evidence that has come to light.
‘The inquiry must be as comprehensive as possible in order to attempt to draw a line under this troubling period.’