The review, of more than 800 death certificates from the Gosport War Memorial Hospital is led by former Bishop of Liverpool James Jones. Focussing on deaths of patients under the care of Department of Medicine for Elderly People, the Panel initially planned to report in December 2017, but the deadline was extended when the number of families coming forward exceeded expectations.
The government apologised in June 2018, with then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt saying;
"Had the establishment listened when junior NHS staff spoke out, had the establishment listened when ordinary families raised concerns instead of treating them as troublemakers, many of those deaths would not have happened."
The Gosport Independent Panel found in June that at least 450 lives were shortened by inappropriate use of opioids. So far only one individual has been charged in relation to the scandal.
Today, Matt Hancock reiterated this apology, adding that it was, "not just the case that these were preventable deaths, but deaths directly caused by the actions of others." Reading from the report, he spoke of the repeated failure of multiple parties to listen to whistleblowers, nurses and families.
The Minister said that today was an important day,
"The voices of the vulnerable will be heard. Those with the courage to speak up will be celebrated. Leaders must change the culture to learn from errors and we must redouble our resolve to create a health service that will be a fitting testament to the Gosport patients and their families".
Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Secretary of Health, welcomed the "unambiguous and clear apology" of both the current and previous Secretary of State, and thanked the enquiry leader and all those involved in its delivery. While promising to work constructively with the government on future initiatives, the Shadow Secretary did criticise existing guidelines around whistleblowing.
Photo © Basher Eyre
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