COMMENT: Families are right to call for action over deaths

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Any petition containing more than 100,000 signatures is a powerful message that politicians surely cannot and must not ignore.

So when Ann Reeves and her daughter, Bridget Devine-Reeves, travel to London today to hand over the petition and a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, they are right to expect that it leads to some sort of action on the part of the government.

They are among many families still fighting for justice in the wake of the Gosport Independent Panel’s report into hundreds of deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1989 and 2000.

It was back in June that the panel, led by Bishop James Jones, found there had been a ‘disregard for human life’ during the period they were tasked with investigating.

Ann’s mother, 88-year-old Elsie Devine, was among the 456 patients who had their lives shortened through the use of opioids without medical justification. But there has never been any criminal prosecution as a result of what took place at the hospital.

We support the families in their belief that charges should be brought over this scandal – and so do the 101,591 people who have signed the petition.

 It’s not only about calling to see people answer for their actions though. We are also concerned to discover that families have not been offered any support, nor have they been given legal representation or indeed offered any sort of help to bring criminal proceedings.

Meanwhile it is safe to assume that agencies named in the report will have had lawyers poring over the findings.

In our story today, a government spokesman said it would continue to work with families to ensure they get the support they need. But that is just words.

 All those who lost loved ones are right to demand action.