Families granted inquests into deaths of loved ones at Gosport War Memorial Hospital

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Andrew Pate

Four families of victims who died in the care of Gosport War Memorial Hospital have been granted permission for inquests into their deaths.

In 2018, an independent panel found over 450 lives were shortened by doses of diamorphine, given without clinical justification.

A new investigation is examining around 15,000 deaths certificates between 1987 to 2001.

The Hampshire coroner has said inquests can be held into the deaths of Dulcie Middleton, Horace Reuben David Smith, Eva Isabel Page and Clifford Houghton after their families’ lawyer argued that they had been left 'without justice or closure' following repeated investigations into hundreds of deaths at the hospital in Hampshire.

Law fim Leigh Day has also written to the Attorney General to ask for a fresh inquests into the deaths of Arthur Denis Brian Cunningham who died aged 79, five days after he was admitted to Gosport War Memorial Hospital on 21 August 1998 and Gladys Mabel Richards admitted on 17 August 1998 where she remained until she died on 21 August 1998.

The families, represented by Leigh Day, are hoping that the inquests will be joined together into one 'Hillsborough-style' inquest.

Dulcie Middleton died at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in 2001

Inquests in 2009 and 2013 concluded that care led by Dr Jane Barton, who was in charge of prescribing medication on the wards, had contributed to the deaths of six patients.

Eleven inquests in total were carried out in relation to over 800 death certificates completed by Dr Barton who was found guilty of “serious professional misconduct” in 2010.

She has always maintained she did her best for her patients, claiming they were too unwell for rehabilitation.

At least 450 people had their lives shortened at Gosport War Memorial Hospital. Credit: PA

  • Clifford Houghton, 71, was admitted to Gosport War Memorial Hospital in February. He died on the same day he was given two doses of diamorphine because of “deterioration”.

  • Dulcie Middleton, 86, died three months after she was admitted to Gosport hospital for rehabilitation following a stroke.

  • Eva Page, 88, died in 1998. It was concluded in the Report that Mrs Page’s case was a case of opioid usage without appropriate clinical indication.

  • Horace Smith, 73, was prescribed diamorphine upon admission to Gosport War Memorial Hospital. It is noted Mr Smith’s improving health deteriorated rapidly.

Watch: Emma Jones says inquests are step in the right direction for 'closure'

Emma Jones from Leigh Day said: “I will be meeting with the families in August and will be happy to meet with any other individuals who would like to discuss the process.”

The law firm hope that more families will come forward to push for a 'Hillsborough-style' inquest.

The police are also looking into the deaths, with Operation Magenta commencing two years ago.

Officers are currently examining over seven hundred patient records.