Gosport hospital deaths inquiry

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A formal inquiry into dozens of suspicious deaths at a hospital in the 1990s will be announced today, a Department of Health spokeswoman confirmed.

The Hillsborough-style inquiry into the deaths of patients, some of whom were elderly, at Gosport War Memorial Hospital in Hampshire, will be led by former Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones.

A written ministerial statement will be published this morning detailing the nature of the inquiry.

A review into the deaths of patients at the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust hospital between 1988 and 2000 was published last year, 10 years after it was completed.

The report, led by Professor Richard Baker, of Leicester University, could not be published in full before then because of police investigations and inquests being held, the department said last year.

The “almost routine use of opiates” for patients, the review found, “almost certainly had shortened the lives of some patients, and it cannot be ruled out that a small number of these would otherwise have been eventually discharged from hospital alive”.

Concerns were first raised about care at the hospital in 1998, with Prof Baker’s review noting that the practice of making patients ” comfortable ” using opiates was used as early as 1988.

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