Hospital Scandal Report Praises Media For Uncovering Truth

The role of the media in uncovering the truth and acting as a “channel and champion” for those affected by the tragedy has been highlighted in a review into patient deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

Following publication of the report yesterday, the chair of Gosport Independent Panel Bishop James Jones singled out The News in Portsmouth for its role in representing the families affected by the scandal.

He told the paper: “Your advocacy of the families is a great example of what local media means, and I’ve been a great supporter of local media. Local newspapers and TV stations and radio are absolutely vital for precisely this reason because no-one in national media and national TV was (reporting on it).

“The paper acted as their channel and champion and that’s very commendable.’ The Rt Rev Jones added that “for 20 years they’ve not been believed and that’s been very hard for them to grieve and not be believed.”

Looking at the role of the media, the report said: “The documents show the prominent part played by the Portsmouth News in pursuing concerns about Gosport War Memorial Hospital (‘the hospital’) and the related police investigations, as well as the accuracy of its early reporting. The documents illustrate the sometimes close relationship between the police and the media.

“On 3 April 2001, the Portsmouth News published the story on its front page under the headline ‘Probe Into Suspicious Death at Hospital – police investigation into alleged unlawful killing of patient, 91′. The article suggested that detectives had prepared a dossier on the death and that the police might have to re-examine up to 600 other deaths at the hospital.

“The article put into the public domain the main issues at the hospital, which have taken a further 17 years to come fully to light. The documents show how the police and the healthcare organisations made contact when the media raised questions.

“The local media made a connection between the response to the criticisms being made by the relatives of the patients and the pride felt about the hospital in Gosport. The documents illustrate that the media coverage played a significant part in encouraging staff who had worked on the wards to take action. Local media coverage reflected a number of the concerns of the Gosport families.”