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Gosport hospital deaths: What the papers say must happen next

Leader writers call for prosecutions and reform following the revelations.

The Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal dominates the front pages of the national newspapers on Thursday – with many papers calling for action in the wake of the revelations.

A damning report revealed that more than 450 people had their lives shortened after being prescribed powerful painkillers at the hospital, while another 200 were “probably” affected.

The inquiry identified a “catalogue of failings” by the authorities, and found whistleblowers and families were ignored as they attempted to raise concerns.

The Sun says the scale of the scandal “defies belief” and demands action is taken against those responsible.

“It must trigger a mass of criminal and disciplinary charges,” it writes in its leader.

“From the doctor who prescribed those morphine overdoses to those who delivered them and those responsible for the horrifying cover-up at every level.”

It adds: “At least 656 victims, many with years or decades to live, were snuffed out.

“All were betrayed by the NHS, police, CPS and the General Medical Council, which failed to strike off Dr Jane Barton even after laying blame at her door. So many would be alive today had the first nurses’ warnings in 1991 been acted on.”

The paper also calls for reform within the health service.

“Too many people treat the NHS like a religion, too sacred for serious reform,” it adds. “Maybe now they’ll finally see its flaws.”

The Daily Mirror says patients’ trust was “horrifically abused” and calls for an independent inquiry into why the truth did not come out for decades.

It describes an “institutional regime” as showing a “disregard for human life”, before it was followed up by an “institutional cover-up”.

“There should be an independent inquiry into why the police failed to investigate,” it concludes. “If criminal acts can be proven, charges must be brought.

“Most of all, we need to ensure our most cherished institution never again betrays the very people it is there to care for.”

The Times also calls for justice for those affected by the scandal.

It writes: “The second most scandalous aspect of this tragedy, after the shocking reality of it ever having happened in the first place, is the delay in arriving at the truth.

“It must be followed much more swiftly by due process, and justice.”

Patients and their relatives were let down “at every juncture”, says the Daily Telegraph, which hails the persistence of the media and MP Caroline Dinenage for exposing the truth.

The paper’s leader questions whether the same failings could be happening elsewhere.

It writes: “The panel said this was ‘an institutionalised regime of prescribing and administering dangerous doses of hazardous medications’. We need to be sure this is not still happening elsewhere.”

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