The Department of Health has responded to the publication of death rates at Gosport War Memorial Hospital by setting up a panel.
Norman Lamb has released a statement in reaction to the Baker Report released in August 2013 into the expected death rates of elderly patients at a Gosport hospital.
The deaths happened between 1988 and 2000 and families have continued to raise concerns about the initial care of their relatives.
The statement says:
"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.
I have asked Bishop James Jones to chair the panel. Having successfully steered the Hillsborough panel, he brings a wealth of expertise and experience to this work. 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. I have also asked Christine Gifford, a recognised expert in the field of access to information, to work alongside him and the various organisations to ensure maximum possible disclosure of the documentary evidence to the panel.
– Norman Lamb, Minister of State, Department of Health
A formal review has been launched into a number of suspicious deaths at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire.
Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb announced that an inquiry is to be held into the deaths of a number of elderly patients at the hospital between 1988 and 2000.
The investigation will be led by former bishop of Liverpool the Rt Rev James Jones, who previously chaired the Hillsborough Independent Panel into the disaster.
He has already started work with the affected families.
The investigation, which is expected to take around two years, will review the evidence held by a number of organisations, Mr Lamb said.
The terms of reference for the review will be published in the autumn.
Norman 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."
A written statement will be delivered to the House of Commons today by the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. The Surrey South West MP's announcement follows years of campaigning from the relatives of those who died at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire during the 1990s.
It's believed the inquiry has been commissioned by the care minister, Norman Lamb MP, who has asked the former Bishop of Liverpool to investigate after an audit on the number of deaths at the hospital more than fifteen years ago.
Relatives of many who died believe they were prescribed painkillers, including morphine and other powerful drugs, to shorten their lives, even if they were not in pain. Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, has joined calls for more information about what happened at the hospital.
In 2003 a report was published into the medical regime at the hospital. It had been commissioned by the Chief Medical Officer after concerns were first raised in 1998. It was coordinated by Professor Richard Baker from the University of Leicester.
His report concluded that there was an almost routine use of opiates and evidence of the practice had been found from as early as 1998. He said it shortened the lives of some patients - a small number of who would have been discharged from the hospital alive. He made a number of recommendations:
These included that investigations into the deaths of individual patients should continue. He also asked for the rota patterns of doctors working at the hospital at the time should be examined to explore the pattern of deaths.
He also said hospital teams who care for patients at the end of the lives should have explicit policies on the use of opiate medication and that there should be national guidelines to help develop local policies.
An inquest into the death of a patient who died at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital fifteen years ago, has been hearing from the doctor who cared for her.
Dr Jane Barton told the coroner that ninety-one year-old Gladys Richards was dying, - and that that was the reason she was put on the drugs she was prescribed. Mrs Richards' family say they are not convinced. Andrew Pate reports.