Jeremy Hunt apologises for hundreds of ‘truly shocking’ deaths at Hampshire hospital
Jeremy Hunt has apologised for the “truly shocking” deaths of hundreds of patients at a hospital in Hampshire.
Mr Hunt apologised on behalf of the Government and the NHS after an independent report found that more than 450 people had died through the inappropriate use of powerful opioid painkillers at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.
Former Bishop of Liverpool James Jones who led the Gosport Independent Panel said that their investigation had found an “institutional practice of shortening lives” at the Hampshire hospital.
In a statement to MPs, Mr Hunt said that the findings “can only be described as truly shocking.”
He paid tribute to staff and families who had raised concerns over patient treatment but said that they had been “systematically ignored”.
“In short there was a catalogue of failings by the local NHS, Hampshire constabulary, the GMC, the NMC, the coroners, and as stewards of the system, the Department of Health.
“Nothing I say can lessen the anguish of families who campaigned for 20 years for justice after the loss of a loved one.
“But I can at least on behalf of the Government and NHS apologise for what happened and what they have been through.
“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.”
Mr Hunt paid tribute to Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb who persuaded the Health Secretary to overturn official findings and order an inquiry during his time as a junior health minister in the coalition government.
Mr Lamb said: “The findings are shocking and devastating in equal measure – both in terms of the 456 patients who had opioids prescribed inappropriately, but also the disgraceful closing of ranks to stop families from getting to the truth.
“Never again must we allow a situation to develop where ordinary people are left in the dark, ignored and not listened to."
The Government is expected to publish a full report in the autumn but Mr Hunt said that the police and CPS will now be examining the report to establish whether fresh criminal charges should be brought.
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth welcomed the apology from the Government and NHS, saying that the report was “devastating, shocking and heart-breaking” but urged the Health Secretary to ensure that the matter would now be properly investigated."