Bishop to lead fresh probe into Gosport patient deaths
An independent inquiry is to investigate high death rates among elderly patients at Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1988 and 2000, the government has announced.
It follows an earlier review into the higher than expected death rates at the Hampshire hospital, which is run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.
The previous review was led by Richard Baker, professor of quality in healthcare at Leicester University. His findings were published in August 2013, 10 years after the review finished due to ongoing police investigations.
However, the government said families had continued to raise concerns about the initial care of their relatives and the subsequent investigations into their deaths, in the wake of the Baker report.
Care and support minister Norman Lamb said: “In order to try and address their concerns, and having given consideration to a number of alternative options, I am setting up an independent panel to review the documentary evidence held across a range of organisations.”
The Gosport Independent Panel will be chaired by James Jones, the former bishop of Liverpool. He chaired the Hillsborough Independent Panel which reported in September 2012, and is currently the home secretary’s adviser on Hillsborough.
“He has begun to work with affected families, and will continue to do so over the coming weeks and months to ensure that the views of those most affected by these deaths are taken into account,” said Mr Lamb.
Christine Gifford, a recognised expert in the field of access to information, to work alongside Bishop Jones to ensure maximum possible disclosure of the documentary evidence to the panel.
“Independence and integrity will be the hallmarks of the panel’s work”
The government will announce the details of other panel members and agreed terms of reference in the autumn.
Mr Lamb said: “The events at Gosport War Memorial hospital have caused immense distress to the families of the patients who died.
“I was deeply concerned by the findings of the Baker report, and I am confident that the appointment of Bishop James Jones to chair this independent process will help answer the many questions of the families affected by these shocking events.”
Bishop James Jones said he was “aware of the heavy responsibility” of accepting the invitation to chair the panel.
“My first priority will be to consult with the families so that their views are taken into account when framing the terms of reference,” he said.
“I have already met with some of the families and will ensure that the panel has regular contact throughout its duration. Independence and integrity will be the hallmarks of the panel’s work,” he added.