Chapter 11: The Panel’s work
How the Panel has carried out its work
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health, Norman Lamb MP, announced the Panel’s Terms of Reference in a Written Parliamentary Statement on 9 December 2014. The Panel met for the first time on 13 January 2015 and on a monthly basis thereafter. In between Panel meetings, respective Panel members, working with members of the Secretariat, led work on accessing relevant documentation and on research reflecting their specialist skills and experience.
Engagement with the families and family material
The families of those affected by events at the hospital were central to the work of the Panel. Initially, the Panel held two meetings with a small number of families in Gosport between July 2014 and December 2014, when the Terms of Reference were formally announced. These meetings were used to begin to understand the concerns of the affected families and the questions that would help to shape the Panel’s Terms of Reference.
In the summer of 2015, the Panel undertook a series of activities to raise awareness of its work in the local community. This included but was not limited to: adverts in the local press, TV and radio interviews, and a press release. This activity saw a significant increase in the number of families that came forward to engage with the Panel.
An exercise to trace those families whose relatives had been included in previous police investigations but who were not already in contact with the Panel was conducted in the summer of 2016. This again saw an increase in the number of families coming forward with concerns about events at the hospital.
The approach to family engagement included both formal meetings between Panel members and families, and a flexible, personal approach led by the Secretariat’s Family Team. Since 2014, the Panel has established contact with families relating to 145 patients. The Panel asked the families if they had any questions or concerns relating to the care and treatment of patients at the hospital during the period covered by the work of the Panel. There were over 750 questions and concerns from families, and these provided a basis for the thematic approach adopted by the Panel.
A number of families attended family liaison meetings, which were held four times a year, the first taking place on 9 December 2014 and a further 12 occurring before disclosure of the Report. The meetings were used to keep families up to date with the progress of the Panel, while ensuring that there was no breach of the principle of ‘no piecemeal disclosure’, and were also intended to provide an environment where families could meet to talk and share their experiences. The Panel asked the families to provide any documentation they had to the Panel so that it could be analysed as part of the thematic approach. In response, the families provided a total of 12,512 documents to the Panel. All families, including those who were unable to attend the family liaison meetings, were sent notes of these meetings to ensure that they were kept informed of the progress of the Panel’s work. The agendas for these meetings and the relevant Notes for Families are available on this website under Family Liaison meetings.