Families Protest over Gosport War Memorial Hospital Deaths

Families March on Downing Street over Hundreds of Deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital

The families of 456 elderly people who died at Gosport War Memorial Hospital are marching on Downing Street today to hand in a letter and petition urging the prosecution of those responsible. 

In June 2018, an inquiry found that more than 450 people died prematurely through being administered opioids without medical justification between 1989 and 2000 at the hospital in Hampshire.

In the report resulting from the inquiry, the Chair of the Gosport Independent Panel, The Right Reverend James Jones KBE, said: “The shocking outcome of the Panel’s work is that we have now been able to conclude that the lives of over 450 patients were shortened while in the hospital, and to demonstrate that those first families were right to persist in asking questions about how their loved ones had been treated”.

Jones also said: “there was a disregard for human life and a culture of shortening the lives of a large number of patients by prescribing and administering dangerous doses of a hazardous combination of medication not clinically indicated or justified”.

There was a disregard for human life and a culture of shortening the lives of a large number of patients.

The Right Reverend James Jones KBE,  Chair of the Gosport Independent Panel

The report also outlines that a further 200 people were probably affected: “Taking into account the missing records, there were probably at least another 200 patients similarly affected but whose clinical notes were not found.”

Families Fighting for Justice

Relatives are extremely frustrated that nobody appears to be held accountable, and are submitting a petition with 101,591 signatures calling on the Attorney General to begin criminal prosecution over the deaths.

Bridget Reeves, the organiser of the petition, whose 88-year-old grandmother Elsie Devine died at Gosport War Memorial Hospital after being admitted for respite care, told Sky News: “People were put on those heavy doses of opioids simply because they chatted too much at night or because they were difficult patients.

“That’s horrific, it’s catastrophic, it’s a demonstration of acts of absolute evil.

“What’s taken so long? We’re three months after that report was laid out, why hasn’t there been any arrests? Because the evidence is all there and the families can’t understand why we’ve got to go through all of this all over again.”

People were put on those heavy doses of opioids simply because they chatted too much at night or because they were difficult patients.

Bridget Reeves, organiser of the Downing Street petition

The independent panel report praises the tenacity of victims’ families in fighting for answers and justice for over two decades: “This Report is a vindication of their tenacious refusal to be dismissed. It shows how they were failed by the professional bodies and by others in authority charged with responsibility for regulating the practice of professionals in the interests of patient safety.”

It also accuses senior staff of ‘obfuscation’: “The obfuscation by those in authority has often made the relatives of those who died angry and disillusioned.”

Although the panel report notes a legal case could be made that Article 2 of the Human Rights Convention, the right to life, may have been breached, it highlights that all of the deaths occurred before the Human Rights Act, incorporating the Human Rights Convention into UK law, formally came into force in October 2000.

Article 2 states: “Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.”

Featured image: Gosport War Memorial Hospital as seen from the top of The Avenue
Credit: Basher Eyre – geograph.org.uk/p/1426198

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About the Author

Rahul Verma

News Editor
Rahul is Rights Info's News and Social Media Editor. He is an experienced reporter and editor covering the under-represented, arts and culture and migrant communities, and has worked for national newspapers, youth media projects and creative agencies. He is hugely passionate about social justice, equality and a fairer world. To email Rahul, drop him a line. View all posts by Rahul Verma.
Families March on Downing Street over Hundreds of Deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital
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