Police arrest male nurse, 46, at hospital where saline poisoning patients died
Police stand guard outside Stepping Hill hospital in Stockport in July 2011, shortly after the alarm was raised
Stepping Hill hospital in Stockport centre of investigation since July 2011
A 46-year-old male nurse has been arrested by Greater Manchester Police investigating the poisoning of patients at Stepping Hill Hospital.
The arrest came as it emerged that the death of an 82-year-old man on New Year’s Eve is also now being investigated as his medicines were contaminated.
His is now the fourth death being investigated by police working on the inquiry.
The suspect, arrested at his home in Stockport today, was held on suspicion of unlawfully administering a noxious substance, or poison, after it was found that medical records had been tampered with on Monday.
The arrest came after another nurse noticed the medical records of a patient on Ward A3 had been altered overnight between January 2 and 3.
The patient who had his records altered was given medicine he should not have received but was not harmed.
Sources close to the investigation stressed that today’s arrest forms part of a separate investigation to the one looking at the contamination of saline drips in June and July last year, and as yet there is no link between the two.
But the nurse arrested today worked on the same wards at the same time the patients were poisoned last summer.
The hospital in Stockport has been at
the centre of an investigation since July last year after staff
discovered that saline drips had been tampered with. It was found that insulin had been deliberately injected into saline drips.
16 other patients are believed to have been poisoned at Stepping Hill hospital
Tracey Arden, 44, Arnold Lancaster, 71, and Derek Weaver, 83 all died after being give contaminated saline at the hospital and their deaths were being investigated as part of the inquiry.
Police have yet to establish a the four patients died as a result of the contamination of their saline drips.
Detectives said a total of
16 other patients are believed to have been poisoned but survived after
their saline drips were injected with insulin.
Nurse Rebecca Leighton was arrested in July and spent six weeks in custody but charges against her were dropped in September.
She is not considered a suspect, according to a police source.
In October last year police said they might never find the saboteur.
The alarm was
first raised by staff at Stepping Hill hospital on July 12 when a higher than normal
number of patients were reported to have ‘unexplained’ low blood sugar
levels amid fears that saline solution had been contaminated with
Around 100,000 was spent on round-the-clock security guards between July and November. However, the patrols were scaled back because of costs.
Other measures such as CCTV on wards and two nurses checking the administration of drugs remain in place.
Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, said today: ‘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.’