Fresh inquests have been ordered by the High Court into the deaths of three patients at the scandal-hit Gosport War Memorial Hospital after a campaign by their families.

An independent police investigation was launched into the community hospital in Hampshire after a probe found hundreds of patients had their lives cut short by opioids.

In 2018, the Gosport Independent Panel report concluded that the lives of more than 450 people were shortened because of the routine practice of prescribing and administering opioids until the year 2000, and that probably at least another 200 patients were similarly affected.

The Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, which is managing the investigation, codenamed Operation Magenta, said it is reviewing the records of more than 750 patients and has identified 19 suspects to be interviewed.

Gosport War Memorial Hospital
Gladys Richards will get a new inquest (Family handout/PA)

Now the High Court has agreed with a request by the families of Gladys Richards, Arthur Cunningham and Robert Wilson for new inquests into their deaths following the report’s release.

Inquests were originally held into Ms Richards’ death in April 2013 and into Mr Cunningham and Mr Wilson’s death in March and April 2009.

Gosport War Memorial Hospital Inquests
Arthur Cunningham will also get a new inquest (Family handout/PA)

Emma Jones of Leigh Day solicitors, who represents the three families as well as the relatives of six other patients who have secured inquests into their deaths, said “the court agreed that it was necessary and desirable in the interests of justice that there be fresh inquests”.

She said: “We are pleased that these three fresh inquests have now been confirmed and the court has agreed with the families that the initial inquests were inadequate and that new inquests are needed to examine all the evidence that has since come to light about the use of opioids at Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1987 and 2001.

Gosport War Memorial Hospital
Robert Wilson died at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital in 1998 (Family handout/PA)

“We are representing the families of nine people whose deaths will be freshly examined by a coroner to try to find answers about what went wrong at the hospital.

“But we know there are many more deaths that have not been properly examined and the families we represent remain determined that a Hillsborough-style public inquiry should be opened into all the deaths linked to opioid misuse at Gosport Hospital, which I believe is one of the biggest NHS scandals of our time.”

The 2018 report said there was “a disregard for human life and a culture of shortening lives of a large number of patients” at the hospital.

It said there was an “institutionalised regime of prescribing and administering ‘dangerous doses’ of a hazardous combination of medication not clinically indicated or justified”.

The inquiry, led by former bishop of Liverpool James Jones, did not ascribe criminal or civil liability for the deaths.

The families say repeated ineffective investigations into hundreds of deaths at the hospital have left families without any justice or closure and have called for a new judge and jury inquest to be held rather than it be conducted by a coroner.