Gosport War Memorial Hospital deaths: Campaigner ‘appalled’ by delays to meeting with health secretary Matt Hancock

FAMILIES affected by the deaths of hundreds of patients at Gosport War Memorial Hospital say they are appalled by the government’s attempts to delay meeting with them.

Those campaigning for justice for the 456 people who had their lives shortened at the hospital between 1989 and 2000 have demanded to meet with the Prime Minister and health secretary Matt Hancock – but have now been told that this will take longer than expected.

Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health and social care during his visit to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth. Picture : Habibur Rahman

Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health and social care during his visit to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth. Picture : Habibur Rahman

An independent investigation led by Bishop James Jones found there was a ‘disregard for human life’ at the hospital.

Mr Hancock, who was at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham yesterday to discuss the new £58m investment plan with staff, confirmed that families will have to wait for their meeting.

He said: ‘I am very happy to meet the families – I have taken the advice of Bishop Jones and I plan to meet them after the conclusion of the police work.

‘At the moment, because the police are working independently, there’s very little I can say about it.

‘I’ve set out in parliament where we are up to now and I look forward to meeting the families when it is appropriate to do so.’

Bridget Reeves, 42, lost her grandmother Elsie Devine, 88, as a result of her being prescribed opioids without medical justification.

She describes the announcement as a ‘delaying tactic’ from the government.

Bridget said: ‘I don’t think Bishop Jones was in any place to make that decision – first and foremost Theresa May and the government said they would be meeting with us, then they have constantly backtracked on that.

‘It’s appalling that we are being ignored like this, none of us are happy about it.

‘Why should we wait until after the police work is done, when we have concerns about that very assessment?’

An exact time-frame for when this work will be completed has not yet been confirmed – but Bridget says she will be as vocal as ever, no matter how long it takes.

Bridget explained: 'It will now probably take another year or so, and my biggest concern is that there is no firm chance of a criminal investigation into the deaths.

‘It was a huge cover-up and the government is continuing to delays us in the hope that we’ll go quietly.

‘This is just another delaying tactic to bring the families down – Brexit is no excuse and I think Mr Hancock needs to rethink his schedule.’