Police are on the verge of handing over the job of assessing new evidence uncovered in the deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital to a new police force.
An independent panel investigation found 456 patients had their lives shortened through the institutional practice of prescribing opioid painkillers without clinical justification between 1989.
The Gosport Independent Panel said another 200 patients ‘probably’ died in the same way but missing medical records meant this could not be said definitively.
The four-year investigation heavily criticised Hampshire police’s three probes into the deaths, with the detective behind its first investigation labelling family members as troublemakers.
Today a Hampshire police spokesman revealed the National Police Chiefs’ Council had recommended a new force which could take on the job of looking at new evidence uncovered by the panel.
Hampshire police stopped short of naming the new force.
Gillian Kimbley’s husband Robert Wilson, 75, died in 1998 at the hospital.
The 72-year-old, of Sarisbury Green said: ‘We need something done now – new police and everything.
‘They can’t keep anything secret from us any more.’
MP Norman Lamb, who established the bishop-led Gosport Independent Panel while a health minister, told The News it must be announced ‘within days’ who is taking on a new investigation.
Mr Lamb, who wants to meet with the families of those patients who died and Bishop James Jones, said it must be done as a ‘matter of urgency’.
He said: ‘We can’t have families in limbo for 20 years and then delay further for months for an announcement of who’s going be investigating this.
‘That can be announced quickly. Of course, the investigation has to be thorough but announcing it’s going to happen needs to happen in days rather than weeks or months.
‘There needs to be an investigation and they need to announce within days who’s doing it and they owe it to the families after the appalling delays.’
Gillian Mackenzie’s 91-year-old mother Gladys Richards died at the hospital in 1988.
Mrs Mackenzie, 84, said: ‘I’m glad they are (handing over) but I hope to god it’s not the Metropolitan police.
‘Avon and Somerset used to have a good reputation and so did Thames Valley.’
It comes after Hampshire police said the force would take a ‘step back from examining and presenting any new evidence and information gathered by the panel’.
A police spokesman said: ‘Since then, independent advice has been sought from relevant national policing leaders, including the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Major Crime and the National Police Coordination Centre, to ask for a recommendation in relation to the lead police force and to ensure it has the required resources going forward.
‘This process has now taken place and, on the basis of that recommendation, another police force has been asked to take on this important responsibility.
‘We are waiting for a formal response from that force at which point we would notify the families first via the panel before announcing this more widely.’