Male nurse arrested in New Year’s Eve hospital poisoning investigation
Published 05/01/2012 | 15:12
A MALE nurse has been arrested by detectives investigating the poisoning of patients at Stepping Hill hospital in Stockport following the death on New Year’s Eve of a fourth patient.
The 46-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of administering a noxious substance after staff at the hospital reported that medical records may have been altered. The records allegedly showed the patient had been given additional doses of medicine.
It follows the death of an 82-year-old patient who police believe had his saline drip poisoned at the Stockport hospital in July.
The man died on New Year’s Eve. He is the fourth victim of poisoning at the hospital. An investigation was launched in July after Tracey Arden, 44, Arnold Lancaster, 71, and Derek Weaver, 83, died following contamination of their medicine.
Officers made the arrest after the medical records of a fifth patient may have been tampered with. The patient was monitored and has since made a full recovery.
The new arrest comes after nurse Rebecca Leighton, 27, spent six weeks in jail accused of poisoning patients at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester.
She was accused of injecting saline solutions with insulin on the wards between 1 June 2011 and 15 July 2011 but was dramatically released last September when charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.
Police believe 20 people are now believed to have been deliberately poisoned. Officers are continuing to probe the deaths of Tracey Arden, Arnold Lancaster and Derek Weaver who all died after being given contaminated saline.
Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "This is and always has been a search for the truth.
"It is due to the diligence of staff at the hospital that we were made aware about the potential tampering of medical records and everyone should be reassured that, like the hospital, we initiated a swift response and have consequently arrested a member of staff in relation to this matter.
"I must stress that at this time he is only being spoken to in relation to these matters and as we have previously said we will not and cannot rule out making further arrests in the coming days or weeks.
"I cannot stress enough just how complex an investigation this is and is one that we continue to commit significant resources to.
"I know relatives of the confirmed victims affected and the public in general continue to seek answers and we are working as quickly as we can to provide them without jeopardising the quality or integrity of the investigation.
"For obvious reasons I cannot go into detail about the ongoing work we are doing but would like to take the opportunity to thank the hospital and staff for their continued and unreserved cooperation."
About 650 people have already been interviewed, including doctors, nurses and pharmacy staff over the scandal at Stepping Hill hospital. The deaths of a further 21 patients who suffered hypoglycaemic episodes are not being treated as suspicious.