Eastbourne woman’s 20-year fight for truth over Gosport Hospital scandal

Gillian McKenzie
Gillian McKenzie

An Eastbourne woman’s 20-year fight for the truth saw some justice yesterday (Wednesday) after a public inquiry found more than 450 people’s lives were shortened by a hospital incorrectly prescribing strong painkillers.

Gillian McKenzie first raised suspicions over her mother Gladys Richards’ treatment by Gosport Hospital and subsequent death, aged 91, in 1998.

An independent panel has now found the hospital prescribed unjustified and ‘dangerous amounts’ of opioids which shortened hundreds of lives.

Having supported Mrs McKenzie’s case since before being in Parliament, Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd is now fighting for criminal proceedings.

He said, “This is an utterly shocking report, it’s even worse than my constituent Mrs Gillian Mackenzie told me when she first came to see me with the issue a decade ago.

“Initially I found it almost too hard to believe, but having read through the copious documents that Gillian produced, it became clear that a great injustice may well have happened at the Gosport Hospital.

“How she believed her elderly mother and numerous other elderly patients had died earlier than they should have done, at the hands of some of the very clinical staff who were supposed to care for them.”

Mr Lloyd went on, “At last she and the other relatives got the truth. I am determined they should now get justice, so I will be pushing in Westminster for criminal proceedings brought against those individuals responsible.

“A truly wicked thing went on all those years ago at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital, and without the tenacious and courageous actions of Gillian McKenzie, the first relative to start airing her suspicions 20 years ago, this dreadful story may never have seen the light of day.

“I pay tribute to her remarkable tenacity and fortitude.”

Mr Lloyd drew the subject to the attention of then health minister Norman Lamb MP, who secured an independent commission led by retired Bishop of Liverpool, Revd. James Jones, who had previously lead the Hillsborough Inquiry.

His report was released on Wednesday (June 20).

In a statement reacting to the inquiry, families of the victims said, “The inexcusable failure of them all is not only shameful, it is scandalous and it is immoral.

“As victims of crime, we are all entitled to have an explanation when an alleged injustice has occurred. But this has been sinister, calculating, and those implicated must now face the full rigour of the criminal justice system.”

“These horrifying, shameful, unforgivable actions need to be disclosed in a criminal court for a jury to decide. Only then can we put our loved ones to rest.”

Read the Herald’s previous story on this issue here.