THE First Minister has agreed to an independent review into Operation Jasmine, the enquiry into alleged abuse in Gwent care homes.
First minister Carwyn Jones told AMs: “I do not want the events that happened in Gwent a decade ago to ever be repeated. This review will be part of ensuring that is the case.”
He told the Senedd the families group Justice for Jasmine had told him of the personal stories of many of those involved.
He said: “These stories were moving and powerful. They captured, better than any speech I could make, the importance of protecting our older people in care and of putting their well-being at the heart of our public services. The victims and their families have acted throughout with great dignity and fortitude. They are an example to us all.
In a statement, Sarah Rochira, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales said: "This has come as a great relief to the families affected by the tragic events that led to the police investigation. We are hoping that this Independent Review will give us the much needed answers to our questions of what happened to our loved ones."
The probe will be led by Dr Margaret Flynn who was behind a recent review into the Winterbourne View care home in Bristol. She is expected to make a public report by the end of 2014.
Wayne David, MP for Caerphilly, who has long campaigned for a review into the operation, welcomed the appointment of Dr Flynn to lead the review, saying she is: "widely respected and has enormous experience, and I and the other Gwent Labour MPs will assist her in her work.”
He added: “I am very pleased that Carwyn Jones has listened to the relatives who have called for such an inquiry. It is the right thing to do and it is essential that lessons are learnt so that the abuse of elderly people in care homes does not happen again.
Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith who earlier this year called for a review into the investigation welcomed the news, saying: “When I met the families affected by the collapse of Operation Jasmine in March, two things were clear. “They wanted answers and they wanted justice.
“Without the bold decision by the First Minister today, these families would have been let down by the system.
“Their pain and guilt over what happened to their loved ones deserved a response, and I cannot welcome this response enough.
A spokesman for Gwent Police said they welcomed the decision, adding: "We will provide any assistance and information as and when it may be required.”
Operation Jasmine was established on October 19, 2005 after Gladys Thomas, 84, a patient at Bryngwyn Mountleigh nursing home in Newbridge, was admitted to Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital after being given incorrect doses of medication. She died on October 27.
A qualified nurse at the home pleaded guilty to neglect on the basis of not administering Ms Thomas the correct medication.
After a seven-year operation costing £11.6 million and involving 75 police staff, 4,126 statements, 10,534 exhibits and 49,222 pieces of documentation weighing around 12.52 tonnes, neither Dr Prana Das, 66, nor co-accused Paul Black will go on trial.
OPERATION JASMINE KEY FACTS
SIX care homes investigated:
• Bryngwyn Mountleigh, Newbridge
• Brithdir Care Home, Bargoed
• The Beeches Blaenavon
• Belmont, Caerphilly
• Grosvenor Care Home, Abertillery
• Bankhouse, Ebbw Vale
* 74 Suspects, 52 arrested, 20 charged
* 75 police officers and staff worked the case
* 103 alleged victims, 63 of whom have died since the beginning of the operation
* 4,126 Statements
* 10,534 exhibits
* 49,222 pieces of documentation weighing approximately 12.5 metric tonnes
* £11.6 million total spend on Operation Jasmine - £8.5m Home Office and £3.1m Gwent Police