By Connor Steel
IT HAS been reported that a “number of people” will be interviewed under police caution about their alleged involvement in the deaths of over 450 patients at Gosport War Memorial between 1987 and 2001, with the BBC stating that families were told of the latest development in a meeting held at Fareham Leisure Centre.
This news marks another step forward after an independent panel found that a total of 456 patients died after being given powerful painkillers inappropriately. It was published in June 2018 and stated there was ‘a disregard for human life”, with the findings drawing huge national and local headlines following their release.
Another 200 patients are believed to have suffered a similar fate during the fourteen year period, but couldn’t confirm this due to missing patient records. The report further added that Dr Jane Barton oversaw a practice of prescribing on the ward and she was found guilty of serious professional misconduct charges during 2010.
This related to failings in her care of twelve patients between 1996 and 1999, but no actual criminal charges or prosecutions were brought. Dr Barton was furthermore not struck off the medical register and soon chose to retire her profession after the findings became public knowledge, much to the “disbelief” of many critics.
Less than one year after this report was published, police announced the launch of a new investigating team into the deaths at Gosport War Memorial. It has since been titled ‘Operation Magenta’ and is said to have 150 staff carrying out the “most complex and significant investigation of its nature in the country” at this time.
Under direction from Kent Police investigators have over three million items to scan, store and review; which includes seven hundred individual patient medical records alongside 1000+ witness statements. This covers staff at the hospital during the fourteen year period as well as family members of those who passed away.
The BBC have reported that persons of interest have been notified and contact further made with their legal representatives, although there is no exact figure on the number of people set to be questioned. It is further unknown when interviews will begin or the timeframe for its completion at the time of writing (Monday 3rd).
It has been reported that the mood was positive amongst family about this “significant step” forward in their quest for justice, with many hopeful that the Attorney General Michael Ellis will approve a judge-led inquiry. They want any such process to be similar to the Hillsborough Inquiry, which finished back in late April 2016.
But there was minor frustration that the event wasn’t held in a formal location as one family member said the venue was “inappropriate” given the sensitive nature of any updates. Frustrations were further voiced as the investigation reaches it fourth year and fifth with many asking why it is taking so long to complete processes.
Readers can read the full report including quotes from the Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mr Neil Jerome, bereaved family members and the solicitor representing them by visiting BBC News. This article is linked here and can be seen under Hampshire & Isle of Wight within the local news section from the homepage.
PICTURED BY ALAMY (RTKK7T): The front façade and entrance of the Gosport War Memorial Hospital, where over four hundred patients are believed to have passed away ‘prematurely’ between 1987 and 2001.